Day 5-8 Namibia

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Day 5

On the 5th day it was unfortunately time to head back to a city-life, after an again wonderful breakfast at the neighboring lodge, we made our way to the city of Swakopmund. Starting our driving a little later than usual, since we woke up early every day since we had arrived. Our first stop was at the “village”, I guess you can call it, of Solitaire. Solitaire is the only place on a long stretch of road where we could stop to tank and to get some food, so naturally we stopped there. We first went to the bakery of solitaire, where they had all kinds of delicious treats. The bakery also had, hold on, the first real coffee machine we had seen so far, so of course we indulged ourselves with some delicious cappuccinos for the first time since we’ve landed. After the small break we went over to the petrol station to fill up our car, when we discovered that the hood on the back of our 4×4 Range Rover had partially broken off (terrific explanation, basically just car trouble). Lucky for us they could kind off repair it at the garage next to the petrol station, bad luck for us the reparation took about 1,5-2 hours which meant that we had lost quite some time that day. But that didn’t ruin our spirit, still full of excitement did we make our way to Swakopmund.The drive to Swakopmund was absolutely gorgeous. The first stop we made was at the all famous Walvis Bay, which turned out to be quite a disappointment. We drove around for a bit in the city itself, until we made our way to the shore to spot some birds, but since it was quite foggy there wasn’t much to spot. We also could only stay there for a short while because of the time lost in Solitaire, and we wanted to be at our hotel before sundown.  So, we left Walvis Bay behind us and entered the city of Swakopmund. We stayed at a hotel near the beach with a beautiful view, once we arrived at the hotel we went for a little beach walk, and in the evening we ate at this fancy restaurant called The Tug, which was rather nice but still couldn’t live up to the previous dinners.

Day 6

After a small breakfast we left the city again to our next destination, Day 6 was a day of long drives, because we wanted to take a scenic drive so we could pass by the Spitzkoppe. Our first stop that day was at a little government operated gem market , where the locals could sell their gems (that were dug up in the surrounding area), in the form of necklaces, bracelets, you name it. It was I quite nice place to get so souvenirs.  After that we just made our way to the accommodation, only stopping for petrol stations. We stayed in the Erongo mountains, in Hohenstein lodge, which had the most beautiful view so far. When we arrived we booked a sundowner game drive for the afternoon, and before that we went for a small hike to a bird spotting point. The game drive was quite nice although we didn’t see many new animals, however we saw a baby giraffe which was pretty amazing. Also watching the sunset in the Erongo mountains from the safari car with of course a Windhoek lager, was totally worth it. After the drive we had dinner at the lodge, a set and included dinner menu.

Day 7

The 7th day was again, you’ve probably already guessed it, a day of long drives. This day was a bit of a downside to the whole trip. Since we only had two weeks in Namibia, and we wanted to see as much as possible, which meant staying in the car a lot. This day we were just fed up with staying in the car the whole time, also because this day there wasn’t much to see, the day was just a drive/no sightseeing day only. Which ruined the mood a bit. The only stop we made was at a village to eat our lunch and to get some coffee. We had received lunch boxes from the previous place,  and they gave us the strangest lunch ever. Maybe it was just something I had never seen before, but it was just odd. They gave us schnitzel on cake? Like literal cake. Maybe it’s a German thing that stuck around in Namibia, or just an open-minded cook that had prepared our lunches. Anyway it was still a fine meal. Also the coffee that day was odd, the waitress just gave us boiled water with coffee pads inside of it, again it was fine but just odd. Besides the strangeness of our meals that day not much excitement happened. We arrived at our lodge, Rustig Toko Lodge, the place was pretty nice. A lot of the locals (among them Herero’s fully in traditional clothing) also came to the Rustig Toko Lodge to have dinner, and to sit around the camp fire watching the sunset. It was nice to sit with locals for a change, because a great deal of the places we stayed at were just tourists. For dinner there was again a little buffet, which was fine. After that we played card games as usual and made our way to bed.

Day 8

Moods completely restored, because today was going to be an exciting day. From Rustig Toko we made our way the famous Etosha Park. We entered the park through the west gate, Galton gate. After some necessary paperwork we could finally enter the gates. If you are unfamiliar with Etosha Park, it is the biggest and most famous wild life park in Namibia, the best place to spot the big 4 (because number 5 is not to be found there). Throughout the park you have different waterholes, just like at the accommodations, where you can spot different animals. When we entered the gate we took an immediate turn to the first waterhole. And the first waterhole was just a-m-a-z-i-n-g, while the days before we had struggled to just even spot a hartebeest in the distance, this waterhole was just jam-packed with an abundance of animals. It was just crazy, hundreds upon hundreds of zebras, springbok, oryx, eland, wildebeest even giraffes in the distance. We stayed at the waterhole for quite a while, just staring at how stunning it all was. After that first waterhole we just hopped on from waterhole to waterhole spotting different species along the way. We stopped at the Dolomite camp, and after that at Olifantrus to eat our lunch that we had bought at a supermarket.  After Olifantrus we didn’t spot much for a while, until at a certain point we stopped at an abandoned  waterhole. Right before we turned around to go back to the main road, I squinted my eyes and thinking I saw something in the distance. I instantly grabbed the binoculars, and saw the gigantic (in my opinion) king op the savannah. A massive male elephant was just slowly walking up to us, casually like it was nothing. He just walked by, relaxed, took a look at the waterhole , where we just were parked in front of, no biggie, and walked on disappearing into the distance. The first elephant we saw was just a breathtaking experience. It is crazy to see an animal you always see on tv or in a zoo, to see such an animal up close, right in front of your car. After the elephant, we soon reached our last on the way stop of that day, Oukaukuejo camp. We just parked our car there, ate some icecreams, wrote some postcards and we moved on to our next destination. Right out of the Andersson gate, we stayed at Etosha Taleni Village. The best accommodation yet, I know I keep saying how amazing the places I stayed at are but they really just keep surpassing the previous accommodations, and the keep surpassing my expectations.  Before dinner I, of freaking course, did a small hike with my brother. We hiked to a viewing point where we spotted some zebras. After that we had dinner, best buffet ever. Taleni village is from the same lodge chain as the Sossusvlei lodge we used to eat at (the place of the chickenbirds, and also an amazing buffet). So for the dinner part my expectations were rather high, and oh were those expectations met. Just delicious. Later I found out that this place is known for the best buffets of Namibia, and what can I say it’s true!

More days will follow, and as always

-Until next time-

Brit

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Afrikaanse road signs
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Scenic drives

Preparing for a journey: Namibia

 

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My next trip is all planned out, I’m going to Namibia. My very first time going to the African continent, and my first time going to really discover the unknown. Of course I’ve been to other countries, continents and so on, but it was all still so, I don’t know, western I guess. Africa is just something so different, it’s been for me always one of those places you see on a picture or on a TV, but not imaginable in real life. And now I’m really going, I’m leaving this Tuesday evening for a twelve hour flight to Windhoek, the capital. And oh boy I’m excited. I will be staying in Namibia for 16 days, starting in the capital and taking a road trip through the country together with my family. I hope to be writing about my experiences afterwards, but for now I would like to share with you how I/we kind off prepared for this different kind off “family vacation”.

Research

First of all of course the most important thing to do is to now your stuff. Something that I’ve experienced by booking this trip I actually how little I know about the African continent, let alone Namibia. For me it was always kind of like yeah Morocco and Egypt on the top, and South-Africa at the bottom. Of course I had some knowledge about the other countries, names, some capitals, religious backgrounds etc. but I’ve never really looked into them individually. So, naturally you have to research a country before you visit it. I did, and  I learned so much. For example some general background information about Namibia past, languages etc. but also more important information about safety, like getting the right injections, malaria pills,  but also how to handle different situations concerning the wild life.

Supplies

The next step is to get your stuff together. Part of the research is gaining the right supplies. For Namibia it´s for example handy to have your own mosquito net, mosquito socks, mosquito you name it. Also so good hiking shoes can be of great importance.

Besides packing and such that’s a little bit how I prepared for this exciting journey, I hope you like this small article and that it´s somehow useful for you, or just a fun read. Anyway I can’t wait to write about my actual experience in Namibia. And as always

-Until next time-

Brit

4 hours in Seattle

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Whenever I go on a trip  I like to beat the clichés, discover the unknown. Now being an inexperienced traveller this can be quite hard, often it’s just easier to follow the mainstream. Something I experienced when I had exactly four hours to spent in Seattle. How did I ended with such a short timespan you might ask? Well it was a daytrip with a travel organisation from Vancouver, the only way I could go there for a short time in a cheap way, being carless and driver’s license less and all.  So, being curious as I am of course I had to see as much as possible in my short 4 hours. And I ended up at the clichés, learning that the clichés can also be quite fun.

Space needle

Of course out of all the attractions I had to stop at the space needle, just to see it, just to say I’ve been there. But due to my time plan and little money that I had, I decided not to go up there. At the end I think that was the best decision, I’ve been there I’ve seen it, and at the end of the day it’s just another viewing point, am I right? But still a great one.

First starbucks

For y’all not basic white girls or coffee fanatics out there, Starbucks originated in Seattle. So naturally the first Starbucks can be found downtown the city of Macklemore and Jimi Hendrix. Every once in a while I do enjoy myself a Starbucks so it was quite fun to see where it all started. To see the mermaid logo as a whole. Also quite convenient is that the first Starbucks is near to all the other popular tourist attractions, so you can just pop by it on your way to the other things .Of course if you’re a diehard fan you have to go inside, but then again time.

Pike place market

So then we moved on, across the street of the first Starbucks is the famous Pike Place market. Nice to walk around, seeing people throwing fish in the air and to have the lunch of the day ( some traditional fish and chips). Spent quite a lot of my 4 hours here, and there are no regrets. If you take your time to walk around you will discover these funky nooks and shops. Which are always fun in my opinion. Also the place to get your ingredient for the next attraction: chewing gum.

Gum wall

Might be the most disgusting Instagram hotspot of the world, walls and walls covered in colorful gooeyness. And of course you have to help to build the wall, leaving a piece yourself behind. Although I found the Gum wall overall quite disturbing, with the colors overall it was still kind of beautiful, and the thought behind it that wherever you come from, whatever you look like you can just put a piece of gum on the wall and be part of a whole. Like many many people did before.

Seattle great wheel

The last attraction we visited was the great Seattle wheel, another viewing point yeaah. With some time left on our hands we decided that the wheel would be the perfect last attraction to visit, so we would still get some view over the city, while all cosy in a cabin and without paying the maximum. It was actually quite nice, although it was a gloomy and rainy day the view was still tremendous.

After that with some spare minutes we still ended up at a Starbucks scoring a coffee. I had glorious fun that day visiting the clichés, seeing what all the hype was about. I guess staying on the beaten path can also be refreshing. My only regrets are not having enough time to visit the Museum of Pop Culture, but who knows what the future holds, maybe I will be back.

Hope you enjoyed, and as always

-Until next time-

Brit

A complete guide to Santorini

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Santorini, the most romantic Instagram picture-worthy Greece island there is. Besides the hype around the place you will discover that it’s much more than a new Instagram feed. I visited the place last year, just as a random pick between the Greece islands. I wanted to visit Greece since it’s such a beautiful but above all cheap summer destination to go to. I looked for a small island, with both culture and beautiful nature and I landed on Santorini.

Background information

If you don’t have time to look it up on Wikipedia here is some basic information about Santorini: Santorini is one of Greece’s many islands, and it belongs to the Cyclades island group. The Island exists out of three main parts: the main island with its capital Fira, a volcano and a smaller island called Therasia. The island is all that’s left of a big volcanic eruption a looong long time ago. The island is quite small with its 15.000 habitants and with a surface about 105km² big. Without further ado let’s get into the places you should definitely look out for when visiting this picturesque place.

Fira

The first place I visited when I came on the island was the capital: Fira. Besides of course the touristy shops and things that every capital has, Fira’s main attraction is the old port. You can walk down to the old port on the famous donkey trails. You can do this by foot manoeuvering your way through the donkeys, or for a few euro’s you can take the trip down on the back of a donkey. If you are down at the old port and you don’t want to walk or donkey up again? No problem, for a couple of euro’s you can take the cable cart going up again, while enjoying the beautiful view.

Beaches

While beaches may sound like a relaxing and lazy part of this trip, they don’t have to be. The two most famous beaches of Santorini are Red Beach and Black Beach, and like the names already say these beaches are black and red. While you can of course relax and swim at these beaches they are also perfect for a beautiful beach stroll, or snorkeling.

Historical sites

Of course being Greece the island also comes with some historical sites, dating way back to the old times. Akrotiri is the main historical place, easy to combine with visiting Red Beach. The entry can be quite pricey since it’s about €15,- for not much to see , however there are special prices for students and you can also buy a pass that will allow you visiting all the historic sites of the island.  For all of you hikers out there, there is also an archeological site at the top of a mountain on a hiking trail between Perissa beach and Kamari beach (both black beaches). This site was in my opinion the  most worth visiting, since I can’t resist a good hike, the price to enter was way below the price of Akrotiri and this side was also in the open air unlike the Akrotiri site.

Oia

The other “big” city on the island is Oia, also know for an old port with donkeys. Oia can also be combined with another popular hike of the island. There is a 10 kilometre trail between the capital of Santorini and Oia, a breathtaking trail along the coast line, with beautiful scenic views and little chapels on the way. The beginning of the trail is quite hard to find, but there are always people who are willing to help you, and once you’ve found it the path becomes quite clear. There are also a few fruit stands and places to drink on the way. Once you’ve reached the city of Oia I would higly recommend to go down to the port and enjoy the sunset, something Oia is famous for. Down there you have plenty of restaurants but you can also bring your own food and have a little picnic in the rocks. Also in the city itself you have restaurants that can give you a beautiful view over the sea and the sunset, and they may seem like more expensive places but the price difference between a restaurant with view and a normal one is minimal.

Volcano

Another thing that I found quite exciting was to visit the volcano of Santorini, Which you can reach by boat. Me and my friend booked a trip on a sail boat which was about €30,- I would say, at Caldera’s boats.  We had to book it a day in advance. On the day itself we got picked up by a bus, near to our hotel, that brought us to the harbour. On the harbour we entered the sail boat. Our first stop were the hot springs, the hot spring are naturally heated by the volcano, part of the water with a lot of mud.  They gave us some time to swim around and to cover ourselves in mud and after that we were off to the volcano. On the volcano we had time to explore and to walk around, and they gave us a tour with background information of the volcano. After that we went to the island of Thirassia for some lunch, a nice small island and great to visit for lunch only. At the end of the trip they stopped at Oia for us to get off the boat and to enjoy the city.

Cinema

Something fun to do in the evening is going to the cinema, not just your basic old cinema, but Santorini has an open air cinema in the city of Kamari. The cinema both displays new and older movies depending on the day. Sit back relax in a beach chair and order your classic popcorn with a tropical cocktail.

Public transportation

All over the city are bus stops, provided with timetables. Also in most of the hotels they will provide you with the timetable of the bus and otherwise you can always find it on the internet. Although its always good to have a timetable don’t expect the bus to always be on time, in Greece coming late is quite a habit. The bus will cost about two euros depending on the destination. Another thing you can do to get around is renting either a scooter or a quad, renting places are to be found all over the city.

These are all the things I did during my stay in Santorini, things that I would surely recommend. Everything took about 5 days, which I would say is the perfect time for staying on Santorini since it’s quite small. Hope you enjoyed and that you will consider Santorini as your next destination! And as always

-Until next time-

Brit

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Red Beach
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Fira – Oia hiking trail

Food& travelling

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Wherever I go I love eating some unfamiliar  stuff, I won’t go all the way like eating chicken feet or cow brain because those things definitely don’t sound appetizing to me (no offence towards people and cultures that do eat foods like that, just not something I’m used to). However I do like to try out a fair amount of traditional food, if its snacks or a full on main course it doesn’t matter! Food is just part of the experience. So here by I would like to give a list of top picks food wise of a few of the countries I’ve visited, just for good old fun and maybe for you to try out. And although this article might not include pictures of the foods I’m talking about, in a strange way I always find it fascinating and satisfying to read stuff about food, especially when foreign.

Finland

Since I go to Finland quite often I’m quite familiar with the cuisine. My favorite dish by far, is reindeer stew, with mashed (or as I always like to pronounce it smashed) potatoes, cranberry sauce and pickles. I may sound strange but oh boy it truly is a combination made in heaven.  The Finnish are also great in their chocolate, every time I go there I have to eat Fazer chocolate, whether it’s a basic bar or a classic peppermint crisp one. I. Have. To. Eat. It. And I also love Tupla chocolate nougat bars.

Switzerland

One word: cheese. You can truly wake me up for a delicious cheese fondue. Combined with veggies or bread, just true perfection. Also I what I learned in Switzerland is to eat cheese next to your dinner, although this is not necessary a Swiss thing. Still fun to try out. Also rösti is a delicious thing that the Swiss cuisine has brought me, these potato pancakes used to be breakfast food, but are now enjoyed anytime of the day. I strangely enough always eat that with Christmas at home, in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands

Although I’m not a big fan of the cuisine in my own country, we do have some delicious things. Most common thing for us and foreigners to eat are stroopwafels, these are two waffles fused together with caramel sauce, truly yummy an often enjoyed with a cup of tea. Another thing which other people seem to like are the haring fish, eaten with onions. Not a fish person so something I really really hate. But we do however have some great fries traditions, we classically eat our fries in pointy bags (great explanation) together with peanut sauce and a frikandel (kind of sausages but not really, again great explanation) highly would recommend you try it out if you ever come to the Netherlands.

Canada

I really wish I could say poutine with this one, but I’m not the biggest fan. Poutine are fries with cheese curds and gravy, but you can also add bacon, onions etc. When you find them in a good place they can be quite delicious, but in some cases (most I’ve tried) the fries get to soggy because of the gravy which is not really appetizing to me. However they do have some delicious snacks: Namaimo bars for example. These are bars with that mainly exist out of coconut flakes and chocolate. And damn, they are phenomenal.  Another typical Canadian thing that I really enjoy is maple syrup, I loved that stuff. Maple syrup on pancakes, in pastries, in cereal, you name it I’ve eaten it. A drink I really enjoyed in Canada, although it’s more local Whistler and Vancouver, was the Whistler bear paw honey lager. I’m not a great beer lover but this one was truly delicious with its hint of honey.

Greece

Greece has quite an interesting cuisine, something I really like is souvlaki, basically meat on a stick. Can be chicken, pork or lamb. Times I had it, it was served with fries and I mean, who doesn’t like fries. I also really enjoyed the pita bread with meat and tzatziki sauce (yogurt, cucumber and spices), something I also make at home quite often.

Norway

Something extraordinary I had in Norway, which I’m pretty sure is just a general Scandinavian thing, is cloudberries. Cloudberries are these orange berries shaped like a cloud (surprise). When I had them in Norway they were served in cloudberry sauce, with vanilla ice cream on warm waffles. Terrific combination, one of the best desserts I ever had.

Poland

As I mentioned in my article about Wroclaw, something I loved in Poland, were perogies. Dumpling like lookalikes with either sweet or savory filling. I’ve never had a try at the sweet ones, but the savory ones I tried with both a potato filling and a mushroom one. I also once bought them in a Canadian supermarket as a freezer dish, but nothing beats the real thing.

I can talk on and on about food, one of the great enjoyments of life. Hope you liked reading about these view dishes that I love!  Maybe this article will get a part two who knows.

Anyway

-Until next time-

Brit

Studying abroad: the pro’s, cons and what it taught me

 

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This school year I’ve spent six months in the beautiful city of Vancouver studying English. Last year when I finished high school I didn’t want to start university right away, I wanted to travel around for a bit and explore the world. So I decided to look around for ways I could do that. I landed upon this organisation called EF who provided language studies abroad for people who are taking a gap year. I ended up choosing English because I thought I could use some improvement, and I choose Vancouver because it seemed like the city that fitted me and what I wanted out of this trip the best. After being away for six months I’ve experienced all the ups and downs that came with the decision I made.

Decision making

The first thing you want to do when you are deciding to study abroad is finding out exactly what you want and why you are doing it. My main reason was to see something of the world, that’s why I chose to study English for a short amount of time in a big city, because it was something I could already do and it gave me the opportunity to meet people from different countries, something a high school year abroad, for example, wouldn’t give me. If you are more looking for a fulltime study or going to university somewhere I would recommend you visiting the university before hand, believe me if you’re studying there for so long you want to know what the university is like but above all what the place is like you’re staying. Because in some cases studying abroad somewhere can be such a culture shock that you must be sure that you want to stay in that place for such a long time. Also decide on what you want to study, me deciding to study English was quite a mistake, because I was already quite fluent in English, 4 hours of lessons a day for six months didn’t taught me a lot more while it should have. I think it’s better to study something you’re interested in but maybe unfamiliar with, another language such as Spanish for example. Also deciding where you want to stay is important, the first couple of weeks I stayed in a host family, and after that I moved to a student home. Especially staying in a host family was something I had to get used to, don’t always expect a host family to be like a replacement of your real family. You’re just their guest and they most of the time just do it for the money. After I turned 18 I moved to the student home, something I would recommend doing right away if you have the possibility.

Homesickness

Believe me studying abroad is not all about roses. There are always times when you are going to miss home, whether it’s culture related, family, friends, you name it, homesickness and feeling sad is inevitable. Something I’ve experienced for sure. The best thing to do is just to keep yourself busy, go out there, you’re in a new place, go on and explore stuff. Try to meet new people, through school, in a café or even on Tinder. But also try to keep in touch with your friends and family at home, just video-chatting with them can brighten up your day. Being sad is just temporarily so just try to remember to have fun, you don’t want to look back on this experience full of regret.

So these are some of the things you have to look out for when you want to study abroad, although there are some downsides, studying abroad was still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It was a great opportunity to meet new people, but it also gave me some time to think about what I wanted out of life and what I want to study. But an important thing to remember is that you’re going to have rough times, but if you just stay open-minded and if you go out there it will all be fine at the end.

-Until next time-

Brit

 

4 tips on how to cure a “travel hangover”

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We all know the feeling, going back home after a trip.  On the one hand on cloud nine because you just had the best time of your life, but one the other hand you get a little bit of reversed homesickness, wanting to go back to the fun times you had. After trips it’s always hard to get back into your daily routine, especially when you have been gone for quite a while. Something I’ve experienced when I came back from Vancouver where I studied for over six months. I went from  being busy everyday with fun stuff, studying and so on back to the farm lands of the Netherlands with my next study only starting in another 5 months, no money left and nothing to do. Being quite depressed at first I slowly found my own way to cure this “travel hangover”.

1. Although we don’t always want to go back to reality when we are bitten by the travel bug, it sometimes is inevitable. The best thing to overcome gap of being between studies or trips is to keep yourself busy. Just by keeping yourself busy, with a job for example, getting a job even if it’s just a summer job like me is the best way to fill your time, and of course also the way to save money for the next adventure.

2. Another thing to keep yourself busy is starting something new, start a language course for example. Not only super useful because it can help you learn the language of your next destination, which can come in handy when visiting places where English is not really spoken, but it’s of course also a great addition to your skill set. Or just starting another course: learn how to paint, how to build websites, whatever seems interesting to you. Or join a club, there are plenty of unique sports or adventure clubs out there. Or you can start a blog like I did, or a youtube channel where you can talk about your adventures.

3. Something else that happens when you’re gone for a long time is that you lose grip of your social relations. Another important point is to rebuilt these relationships, meet up with people, your friends or family it doesn’t matter. Rebuilding these relationship will help you fall back in to your daily routine, in the most easy way possible.

4. My last tip is, what I find to be the best cure, is having a goal. Have a goal for a next trip, or whatever. Something that will motivate you to keep yourself busy, by saving money and working for example. And also it will give you something to look forward to. Something I did was making a travel plan, my goal is to visit either Asia or Latin-America this Augustus, for both destinations I’ve made a plan and how much money I have to save to reach the goal of going there. This helps me to stay motivated and above all it keeps me busy ( and the prospect of going there also helps a lot).

I hope you enjoyed this small article and that it will help you to cure your travel hangover, although it’s sometimes not the most fun thing to go back to your old routine, often it’s necessary.

-Until next time-

Brit