A Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness: Living Mindfully

What is mindfulness exactly? How is it different from mindfulness meditation? Why is it good for you? And how to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life and travels? What is my relation and experience with mindfulness? Read the answers on these questions and more, in this beginner’s guide to mindfulness.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the act of being present in the here and now. It is the art of accepting whatever is and comes your way, and being less reactive. Mindfulness allows you to tune in with this moment and fully experience it, with all your senses.

Although there are various mindfulness meditation practices, mindfulness itself is merely the act of being present in the here and now. If you notice your thoughts wandering off while you rather want to be present, and you bring yourself back, then that’s an act of mindfulness: shifting your focus & attention to this moment.

Whereas mindfulness can be done at any time or moment or activity, it is useful to do a mindfulness course and practise these various exercises and meditations to learn techniques on how to bring your awareness back into the present moment.

In my upcoming 10-day course about self-growth, you will learn the basics of mindfulness meditation, along with other meditation practices that will improve your ability to focus, be present, happier, healthier, and get closer to that beautiful version inside yourself, your best self. Find more information about what the course contains right here.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Mindfulness helps relieve stress, improve your focus, regulate your emotions, improve your mental & physical health, improve your sleep, decrease levels of stress and anxiety, calm feelings of pain or dis-ease, and much more.

For those of you who don’t know my story yet: mindfulness has drastically improved and transformed my life. I got dragged into a mindfulness class while I was on pills, prescribed to “kill the pain, “stop my anxiety” and “calm my mind down”. However, a lot of awful side effects and pills later, I realised there is no pill to cure your mind. In fact, there is nothing to cure. Only to accept. And with mindfulness, you learn exactly that: to accept whatever you feel, experience, smell, hear, taste, see. And witness it without judgement, but with curiosity and openness.

The benefits that I have experienced are endless, but to sum it up: it cured my anxiety, healed my physical diseases, and improved my overall quality of life. By that, I mean I went from being anxious, unfulfilled, always overthinking, living in my head (and mostly in the future), to: being present, in the here and now, knowing how to deal with anxiety when it arrives (barely anymore), being more happy, less stressed, less worried, and more accepting of whatever comes my way. It helped me grow in ways I cannot even comprehend and it has changed my life completely.

How can you bring it into your daily life?

You can bring mindfulness into your daily life by practising mindfulness meditation. There are various courses and programs online and on meditation apps.

1. Set your intention: become aware of why you want to practice it

What has driven you to become more present in life? Is it a problem you are struggling with, a challenge you are facing? Or is it merely curiosity or a desire to become more calm and less reactive? There are many, many benefits of mindfulness, scientifically proven to improve your mental and physical health. Before you start looking on the outside, to those benefits, begin to look on the inside, to what you really need right now.

2. Start small. Mindfulness is to be found right now.

Do not worry or think too much about living mindfully, because then you are doing the exact opposite. If you want to start living more mindful and aware and present, begin right here and right now. This is the only moment we have and right now is the only time we can take action.

In my upcoming course, I take you on a journey through the basics of meditation and mindfulness into a process of self-growth which even reaches eliminating limiting beliefs, anxiety, improving your mindset, practising self-love and much more. And the basics of all that is to be present. To tune in with yourself and your body. To really notice what you feel.

Breath work is an essential part of being conscious and aware. To be with our breath, is to really feel alive. So, here are some exercises to try out to focus on being present:

  • Hand Practice: place your left hand in front of you. Take your right finger and run it over your left hand’s fingers. While going up, breathe in. While going down, breath out. Follow the rhythm of your normal breath and don’t try to force it or change it in any way.
  • Breath Awareness: Sit still and notice your breathing, for as long as you want
  • Breath Counting: Sit still and start counting your breaths from 1-5. If you lose counts, start over
  • Body Scan: Lay down and scan your body from head to toe. Welcome every sensation that might arrive and when your attention drifts or you fall asleep and come back, just continue the practice.

In the 10-day self-growth course, we will explore these meditations together. Besides the video material and workbook, you will have guided meditations at your disposal, made & recorded by me. Subscribe here.

When I started out mindfulness, I got dragged to the case by my dad. I was suffering from anxiety, he wasn’t suffering from anything but curiosity and a willingness to explore something new. “Mindfulness really is something we can all use, no matter if you have a problem or not. It’s not a quick fix to a problem, because you won’t see the results until after weeks, maybe even months. It’s a way of life that we can all incorporate to enjoy life to the fullest and seize every moment.” Those were the words of my father when I asked him about why he participated in this course, for the second time even.

After this journey of practising it for almost 5 years, from when I was 17, I have discovered that mindful living is more than just a mediation practice or a “something new” to try out once in a while. It is a lifestyle, it is enjoying and tasting life and just putting your focus and attention to the here and now, instead of drifting off in your thoughts or scrolling endlessly on your phone. Distractions come to us in many ways these days, and it can be hard to keep our focus. Be gentle and kind towards yourself and give yourself the time to adapt to a mindful life. It will improve your overall health, quality and appreciation of life.

If you’ve made it until the end of this blogpost, it means you are ready to take the next step in mindful living. My newest course about self-growth & transformation, with mindfulness and meditation as leading forces, is out now. Claim your 50% discount now.

8 Benefits of Domestic Travel

It’s no secret COVID-19 took over the world and paused international tourism for an indefinite amount of period. Until we can safely travel again, domestic travel seems to be the best & most beneficial option at this point. With several destinations handing out travel rewards, some countries promote travel within their borders to encourage citizens to explore more of their home country.

Domestic travel may not sound as spectacular as international travel, but there are still many benefits, in small & big ways, eventually contributing to the health of our planet and diminishing the spread of the virus. It is the perfect chance to explore more of your country, get into solo traveling and 7 other benefits of domestic travel, listed below.

Reason #1: You Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19

By traveling within our borders, we take our responsibility of stopping the spread of the covid-19 virus. By staying within our borders and taking the necessary health & precaution measurement, we can assure ourselves & other citizens of the health & wellbeing of the country.

I am currently residing in Portugal (as an expat), and this beautiful country has declared the “Clean & Safe” stamp of approval, giving by the Turismo de Portugal. As such, the official statement declares this serves to “distinguish tourist activities which are compliant with hygiene and cleaning requirements for the prevention and control of COVID-19 and other possible infections.” Knowing this, I am happy to travel around in Portugal and explore even more of this country in all safety. Thank you, Portugal!

Reason #2: You Support Your Local Tourism

Another way of looking out for the world’s health and safety is when it comes to the economy and tourism of your country. Some countries heavily depend on their tourism incomes, and with the pandemic many have seen a huge decrease in income streams. By traveling in your own country and giving back to your economy, you help you country recover from the damage COVID-19 has caused.

All types of touristic companies have suffered from a setback, and this is your chance to give back and give your money to companies that support your local region or country, and show your support and love for the country you live in.

Also, as mentioned, there are some countries who are giving out rewards to those who travel domestically. Read more about this in my previous blog post about travel rewards.

Reason #3: You Keep Your Travel Spirit Alive

Let’s not forget about this amazing benefit: YOU get to travel again! Yes, you, travel lover, are finally free again to explore. To leave on a road trip, hop on a domestical flight, stay in an enchanting B&B, meet new people, and have meaningful experiences.

In the end, that’s what travel is all about. It starts within yourself, and it’s all about your mindset & perspective. You could make this period amazing and go on beautiful trips and discover more of the country you live in. Or, you could be pissed you can’t go to Bali and stay inside until October. Which one is it going to be?

Also – this time, there might not be new languages or new food to be discovered – depending on which country you live in -, but I am sure every country has its own delicacies in certain regions and there might be some dialect, so that counts too, right? 😉

Reason #4: It’s Your Chance to Start Traveling Solo

On the other hand – also considering this is more a solo travel blog & business – this could also be your perfect chance of starting your solo trip! There are SO many benefits of traveling solo, I cannot even get started. Check out these blogs if you want more information. It has changed my life, and let me to become a solo traveler coach, and I know it can change your life too in many ways.

As there are several ways to slowly get into solo travel, domestic travel is a perfect and safe way to get started. You already know your country, the language(s), and your way around & means of transportation (mostly). Home is not far away – you are disconnected, but still connected on some level with your home base.

Besides that, it’s an interesting way to get out of your comfort zone in your home country & be free spirited in a region you have never been before. I encourage you to not start going on solo adventures in places you are way too familiar with, as this can block you from going outside your comfort zone.

If you want to become more confident with solo travel, go someplace new! A lot of experiments have shown that people are more successful in changing their habits & getting out of their comfort zone when they are in someplace new, not known or familiar. That also explains why you feel so free on holiday: nobody knows you, you are on new grounds.

Reason #5: You Become More Appreciative & Grateful

The pandemic has taught us many things: be more considerate of your health, the environment, the planet & other people. Appreciate what you have. Have patience. Live with yourself (or others). Value your freedom, health & wellbeing. So, this next reason, we really have to thank to the pandemic. See it as a blessing in disguise, the rainbow after the rain, the light at the end of the tunnel.

The pandemic has cause a huge shift in the world. Somehow, we all became more loving and kind, and look out for each other. People want to speak their truth. Crises around the world get the necessary attention, if it’s not from the media, then from the citizens of the world. Not only do we value our health and wellbeing, we value our freedom and our rights, our place and existence in this world.

Phew, back to my point now! Because we couldn’t travel, we were longing for it so much more – you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Now that it’s slowly returning and we have the chance to get out there again, we are so much more grateful & appreciative. We realise the value & worth of our freedom and being able to travel around without having any significant worries.

As you travel in your homeland, you start to look for places that are worth visiting. Along your journey of planning this trip, you might discover very interesting places and companies. You’ll realise that your country is beautiful, that tourists visit it for a reason, and that is has a rich culture & history. Yep, I am shamelessly saying this about all countries out there, because it is the truth: they all have a story, a history, their own unique style & sights to be discovered.

Reason #6: The Place Is All Yours

No. Tourists.

Can you imagine, if you live in some of the worlds’ most popular touristic attractions, that there are NO tourists?

Depending on whether your country opened its borders yet and the destination you choose to travel to, I think we can all agree that touristic hubs are less populated than normal. This is great news for locals and citizens, as you are the main visitors now! That means no more waiting in line, no more overcrowded places and no more mass tourism.

Maybe you’re extra lucky and you’ll find lower prices, as the demand is lower. Maybe the prices are the same. Anywho, this is an amazing way to connect more to your country and the local touristic companies. Go on fun activities and don’t worry about it being overcrowded or waiting in line too much. Embrace the calmness and serenity, until the tourists are back again.

Reason #7: Manage Your Budget Differently

Let’s not forget this important reason of why you should go out there and travel within your borders: the green stuff! As you can skip the expensive flights, you can either choose to travel on a budget or spend your vacay money on other things. Overall, I would say you can save a lot of money traveling domestically instead of internationally.

However, if saving money it not a goal of yours and you wish to treat yourself to a nice vacation, you can choose to upgrade your accommodation style and opt for a 5* hotel instead of the normal 3* or 4* hotels. Maybe you can upgrade your vacation with renting that awesome car you always wished you could drive in, or a treat in a spa centre: there are so many ways to spend your money on a way that is comes back to you in so much value. By choosing to spend your money on travel, you already made a huge step into that direction. Now, it’s up to you to choose what type of travel you wish to go on and what you want to get out it this.

Also, reconsider your travel insurance now that you’re in your own country. Probably you can save a lot of money on that as well. Check if your country has any subsidiaries, incentives, vouchers or others types of rewards for domestic travellers, as those might come in handy!

Don’t forget: in many cases, properties are still obliged to ask you for the touristic tax. Even though you’re technically not a tourist but you’re just roaming around in your own land, you still have to contribute to the tourism & the economy by paying this small tax.

Reason #8: Bring New Travel Buddies!

We all have that friend or family member who is afraid of flying, or traveling long-distance. Well, good news for them, because while traveling domestically, you don’t necessarily need to take the airplane! You can easily travel by car, bus or train – or whatever transportation options are in your country: ride a camel in the desert, ride a donkey in a Greek village, take a ferry to a nearby island – everything is possible!

I hope this inspired you to get out there, support your local tourism, the environment and you own wellbeing and start traveling again. Remember that as your travel coach, I am here to guide you along your inner & outer journeys in the world! Whether you have questions about solo travel, budgeting, or you feel like you want to reach personal goals through travel: it’s all possible during our private coaching. Schedule your free intake interview with me now & start transforming through travel. With this coaching, adapted to your own needs & personal goals, you’ll learn how to life with purpose and travel with intention.

Thank you for reading. I am curious about your next trip! will you travel domestically? let me know in the comments.

Discover the World From Home

Who said travel is on hold?! There may be a pandemic, and we may not be allowed outside our houses, but that won’t stop us – travel fanatics with wanderlust running through our veins, infected by the travel bug – from discovering new places. Treat yourself to a virtual staycation this spring, right from your comfy couch. No need for waiting in line, walking all day or even a trip itinerary: with these tools, you’ll be able to discover the world from your comfy couch.

Whether you still want to experience that trip to Paris you’ve had to cancel, or you’re as curious as I am and you’re open to exploring new destinations, I will guide you through some steps to recreate that cultural treasure hunt right at your home. We’ve already figured out how to keep your travel spirit alive during this time, and I’m sure you’ve become a master of self-care with these tips and how to grow during this time of self isolation. And now, it’s time to let our wanderlust take over again.

Step Into the Virtual Realm of Travel

Today’s technology has evolved to a point where you can bring every destination into your home by experiencing virtual tours. Here are some of the musea, parks and cities who provide these online tours. No need to wait in line, no need to buy your ticket. Just head over to their website and enjoy the scene!

Virtual Museum Tours

Frida Kahlo: Frida Kahlo’s Blue House museum, located in Mexico, Coyoacán, opened their virtual doors to the public during this pandemic – and it’s an excellent way to enrich your knowledge of Mexican art history.

The Louvre Museum in Paris, France displays several virtual tours – from The Petite Galerie to Egyptian Antiquities, indulge yourself in the richness of the art collection that’s now fully available to you in just one click.

Google Arts & Culture gives you access to virtual tours from over 2500 museums spread accross all corners of the earth. No matter your artsy preferences, you’ll find anything here – from catching penguins in the Natural History Museum in London to exploring Keith Haring’s work.

Virtual City Tours

#stayhome Is not only a trend, but a necessity these days. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t go for a walk in your favourite city – virtually, of course. Again, Google Arts & Culture and Google Maps Street View allows us to travel across all countries with not only virtual museum tours but also tours of the biggest landmarks world-wide – imagine Christ the Redeemer or the pyramids of Giza from as you close as you’d like – nothing is too big.

YouVisit’s Machu Pichu’s 360° overview is a great way of catching a glimpse of the Machu Pichu’s breathtaking sights.

AirPano shows 360° videos and photos from their VR collection of impressing spectacles from all over the world – taking you from underwater realms in Indonesia to paradisiac views of the lesser Antilles in the Caribbean, this is your source of virtual eye treats.

Release Your Inner Chef

Pop that bottle of French wine open, open up the wonderful source to all recipes – the Internet – and get cooking! By trying out foreign dishes, you get to know the culture better and you get to taste it. If you’re not into cooking, then this is the best time to support your local businesses – whether there’s a Greek restaurant nearby who still delivers, or that Hawaiian Poké place – those dishes will take you right to the country of origin. And, at the same time, you’re supporting business who are going through difficult times at the moment. It’s a great way to taste your friend’s favourite dishes and restaurants nearby is on Twisper, as you will only find true and real opinions of people without any ads or ratings.

Dust Off Those Travel Guides On Your Book Shelf

Now you’re sitting there, in your kitchen, with a virtual tour of Rome playing on the background, you popped open some fine Italian red wine and your hot pizza order just arrived. Let’s level this up: grab those old travel books or magazines where you got your inspiration from and start reading a bit about your dream location – the history of the Vatican in this case, is quite the collection. Really get into the mood by learning more about the culture, as if you were to visit it. If you’re more into online travel guides, to my opinion Lonely Planet has made the best ones available on their app Guides – insider tips, background stories and amazing visuals included.

Pick Up Some Foreign Expressions

Another great way to learn more about a culture is learning the language. Imagine if you were on your trip to Rome. You would learn some Italian, si? Refresh your multilingual skills by learning some key expressions and practice these at home. Maybe you can take it a level higher and chat with a native – Tandem offers you great ways to learn foreign languages with native speakers, face-to-face, and so are Mondly and Fluentu.

Get that Party Started

Music can change our moods in huge ways: in can motivate us, calm us, or teach us. Accompany your little Italy escape with some traditional Italian background music and change the mood to some that’s amore. On YouTube, Spotify or any music source, you will find countless playlists to spice up the mood!

Apps With View For Days

So, now you’re sitting there in your sofa, with a pizza slice in one hand and a glass of red wine in the other, some background music playing, enjoying Rome by night on your TV screen while attempting to become native in Italian. You’re probably wondering: is that it? You’ve had your magical Italian dinner, you’re learning some Italian phrases, and now what? Don’t fear, as there are some great apps to keep your wanderlust level on a normal balance.

AirPano Travel Book and AirPano City Book are apps from AirPano who take you around the world: Travel Book presents to you the world’ most gorgeous aerial panoramas while CityBook takes you on virtual travel experiences.

Keep up with your travel and memories by updating your bucket list in Photo Map – indicate where you’ve been and add pictures to your collection.

Been is for the ones who aspire to see as much as they can – this app tells you how much percentage of all countries you have already seen and it’s dangerously addicting and competitive. Not that you can improve your score now, however, so that makes it the perfect time to install it.

This one is for all the travel journalists amongst us: if you’re keen on sharing your travel tips, guides and experiences, Lonely Planet has offered this opportunity to all of us with Trips app. Simply start creating your Trip – it is really easy to add pictures, maps, and edit your travel article accordingly – offer unique insights about your country few know about, inspire others and don’t forget to let yourself be inspired too.

Blink Travel is another great source of travel guides, allowing you to learn about countless travel destinations.

And voila, you’re all ready & set to go! I sincerely hope your travel spirit has been pleased with these tips, tricks and tools to travel from your comfy couch. If you have any suggestions or you’d like to have more insights about this topic, feel free to contact me via this website or on social media. I’m here for you, salty soul!

Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post of any kind. I am simply giving my honest opinions about services, apps and websites as tips for you.

#Stayhome & Treat Yourself to Self-Care

Take care of YOU

Give yourself what you need and don’t feel guilty: in fact, be proud of it. By giving yourself what you need, you let yourself enjoy things. You take off the stress and pressure. And in ever-changing and challenging times, isn’t that what we all need?

Put one some fun music, buy some pencils or paint and a notebook and start to draw or colour or paint, begin writing a travel journal to really get into those beautiful memories you created. Stay in touch with your friends and family by sending a frequent text or video chatting with them. Organise guys/girls nights virtually and have fun on a responsible way.

Take care of your MIND

As I’ve explained before, meditations are a great way to take a break and calm down. Not only does it reduce stress levels, it also improves focus. By tuning into a guided meditation, you can focus on several subjects.

A gratitude meditation a day keeps the doctor away.

One of the best ways to instantly change your mood and switch your focus from being negative to being positive, is a gratitude meditation. The beauty of it? You remind yourself of all the things you have in your life. You remind yourself of why you love all these persons. How happy you are with your pet. You remind yourself of how good you actually have it. How #blessed you are. And we all need to be reminded of that from time to time, don’t we?

You can also use mediation to put yourself in a better mood and visualise your dream trip, for example. You can find more information about that right here.

Take care of your BODY

As much as it’s important to stay sane in your head, we must not forget the body. As comfy that sofa is, it’s goot to come out of it once in a while and get that body moving.

Whether it’s some workout session that you came up with or you’re a fan of guided lessons: the Internet is an inexhaustible source of training videos tips and guides. If you’re not into fitness, try doing some yoga or Pilates, or just some simple stretches. Your body will thank you later.

Otherwise, you can always go the old-school way and go for a run, hike or a walk around the neighbourhood- if you’re still allowed to do that. It’s always refreshing and who knows, you might run into some neighbours (from a safe distance, of course).

Not only is it important to keep that body moving, the fuel it gets is also very important. Number one is hydration: keep a bottle of water close to you and stay hydrated. But how do you stay away from those snacks? Try replacing them by healthier snacks. Plan your groceries, make a list (or, during these days, order them) and don’t buy the unhealthy snacks at all. Fear not: you can still get your daily dose of chocolate, but from pure chocolate (75% or more). Snacks snacks during movies? Sure, why not: try making healthy snacks (carrots with hummus will do!) or vegetable chips (yes, you know I’m talking about that bag of sweet potato chips. Go get it.). There are plenty of hacks to turn your favourite snack into a healthier version.

Another important factor is skin-and haircare. Treat yourself to some facial masks, hair masks or organise a spa-at-home-day. Give yourself a nice pedicure, manicure, or make some masks yourself – it’s easier than it looks like. There are plenty of stuff in your pantry and fridge you can use to make you skin and hair glow: Greek yoghurt does wonders for your skin ( and honey as well!), whereas avocado does great as a hair mask, and so on.

Take care of your SPACE

One of the key elements to feel good in quarantine is to feel good in your little (or big) space. It’s time for some re-decoration: buy some nice plants, candles, maybe some art. It will brighten up your space in no-time. As I’ve mentioned in my post about growing during your self-quarantine time, it’s time to release your inner Maria Kondo and start de-cluttering your closet spaces. Or enhance your mood instantly by installing a diffuser or a scented candle and putting on some relaxing background music.

Get those green thumbs out! If you have some space left in your garden or balcony, start planting some new fruits, vegetables, flowers or any kind of plants, as it’s the perfect timing to do so. And seeing your little babies grow and grow will be the most fulfilling and rewarding thing.

If you’re working from home nowadays, remember to set some boundaries for yourself. Change out of your pyjamas into comfy homewear, take time for breaks by walking away from a project every two hours. It’s important to check-in with yourself throughout the day and take it easy. Remember it’s no use to be productive when you’re super tired; then, the “productive thing” to do for you would be to re-energise. Read more about reframing productivity here.

I hope these tips will enhance your daily quarantine-life as it did for me and many others. Remember

How to Grow Through Your Quarantine

Here we all are. Separated from each other, but somehow united in a special way: in quarantine. All under lockdown. A pandemic has taken 2020 under its control and, as Beyoncé said: world stop. The only travel I am doing recently is from my fridge to my bed. It makes you realise how fragile this world is and how fragile we are: even when we think we can have control over everything, we never really can. Nature is a great force that kindly said to us all: stop traveling. Stop rushing. Stop running. Stop producing. Stop polluting. Stop for a while and take some time. Take time to appreciate me. Take time for yourself, your close and loved ones, your health and most of all, time for others. But, until Beyoncé’s pause is disrupted by the legendary words carry on, we are safely trapped in our homes with an endless amount of time in our hands.

So let’s dive in and see how we can use this giant pool of time to grow. To be calm, creative and caring. So that when this is all over, you can look back and be proud for giving yourself what you needed.

Whether it’s giving yourself that Netflix bingewatching session, trying a yoga session or trying new healthy cooking recipes: try to figure out what you really need in this time and don’t be afraid to give it to yourself.

Find your inner balance

The first thing you can to do is to listen to your body. What does your body tell you? Are you tired? Are you having pain or stress that gives you a headache, for example? It’s quite difficult to just analyse your body without stopping for a moment. To do that, give your body a time-out. I recommend trying a bodyscan meditation. By doing this, you can tune into your body and come to a relaxation. Just by being aware of your whole body and the process of a bodyscan, you are able to unwind and let go for a while.

Now that you’ve relaxed your body and released all tension, let’s focus on the mind. It’s much more difficult to make decisions, especially important ones, when you’re not thinking clear. Another thing you can do is a meditation practice on clearing your mind and practice being present in this moment.

Meditation has proven to reduce stress and anxiety, increase your focus, improve your creativity and ability to make decisions, and much more. And since we want to figure out ways on how to use this amount of time to our best, it can surely help us in doing that.

Reframe what productivity means to you

Now that you’re more focused, let’s get to work. Let’s start filling in your days with productive things that you love to do. Productive is the key word here.

Let’s reframe “productive”: it doesn’t mean being busy. It doesn’t mean getting as much things done as possible. It doesn’t mean any of those things. Your goal is to be productive in a way that you give yourself everything you need at that moment and you use things for your greater good. Whether it’s am afternoon of reading a book, taking a hot bath, bingewatching your favourite show, cleaning or de-cluttering your home, or working on a creative project: you can define what productivity means to you. That’s the goal of being productive: so that you, by the end of the day, can say: I’ve done exactly what I needed to do today and I feel good.

With that reframe of “productivity”, let’s see what you can learn during this quarantine time. Write down the following sentences on a piece of paper and try to complete them:

After this quarantine, I am able to …

After this quarantine, I have mastered the skill of …

After this quarantine, I know more about …

After this quarantine, I have gotten familiar with …

This can be anything. It can be learning a new language, reading more about mythology (yup, right here!), becoming familiar with yoga or meditation, etc. Don’t overthink it, just fill in the first thing that pops up in your head.

Write down a plan to make it happen

Now that you have written down your goals, how big or small they might be, you need steps to get there. As we don’t know how long the current situation might last, and with some who are working and other who are free, let’s say the time limit is one you can setup. Is it indefinite? A month? Two weeks? This is completely up to you, but make it realistic. Don’t put yourself up with learning a new language in a week.

Then, write down l the reason why you want to do this. Write a “because” after each goal. I want to learn Spanish because I want to be able to speak with my international friends.

By writing your “because” behind every goal, you remind yourself of the reason why you want to achieve this. It boosts your motivation.

Next up is creating a step-by-step plan, for example: your goal is: becoming familiar with meditation. Let’s say at the end, becoming familiar with is something you would define as doing a meditation of 10 min everyday. Let’s build up to that. Some steps would be: download a mediation app, read a book about it, try out your first meditation, put daily reminders, do first daily meditation of 1 min. Next day, 2 min., third day, 3 min., etc. Create small steps along the way that will help you get there.

Re-ignite your inner fire of wanderlust

This wouldn’t be a travel blog if this wasn’t an important message to you all: keep that travel spirit alive! Keep dreaming. Keep planning. Keep looking forward to discovering more of this beautiful planet, diverse cultures and magnificent people making it all come true. Don’t lose your passion of discovery. In fact, use this time to be well prepared for future travels. Save money. Make travel bucket lists. Go through old souvenirs. Find these and many more tips in my previous blog post on how to keep your travel spirit alive at home.

What is also a great thing to do is to dig up old photo albums, whether it be on-or offline, and relive those beautiful moments captured.

Make a list of movies and series you want to watch

Let’s not deny it: we are all facing a lot of screen time the following period. Netflix, Disney, whatever it is that you’re glued to these days, enjoy it. I’m not here to tell you it’s “unproductive”, it does’t serve you, or anything. In fact, I urge you to make a list of movies or documentaries you really want to watch (again) so you can look forward to doing so. You will remind yourself of how fun these movies were, how they made you laugh or cry, and it will give you some inspo for the next time you’re scrolling endlessly through Netflix.

Make a list of books you would love to read (but never had the time for)

Let’s feed our brains. Besides movies and documentaries, another way to absorb information or stories are books. I have to admit I’ve been weak: late in the evening, my ever-lasting interest in mythology suddenly sparked and I felt the urge to order a mythology book because I wanted to know everything about it and (apparently, 6 years of studying Latin still wasn’t enough), I ordered myself a 400-paged mythology book. So go on, treat yourself and fill up that Kindle or bookshelf with your favourite genres or writers. Note: don’t give into the temptation of late night book cravings like I did.

To all my travel lovers, and especially the females ones who travel solo (shout out to my ladies!), there’s an exciting new book coming out by Dame Traveler, which you probably know by now from her amazing travel photography Instagram account. She’s releasing a book filled with gorgeous travel inspo from #Dametravelers all around the world.

To all my spiritual beings: Jay Shetty, a former monk and motivational speaker, is releasing his book as well upcoming month. It’s about how to think like a monk. And for anyone who already knows him, you all know it’s going to be probably one of the best books to ever exist.

De-clutter and clean your home environment

It’s time to release your inner Maria Kondo and give your space a little make-over. Nothing big, in contrary: less is more. Throw out anything that you no longer need or you have a bad vibe with: sweater from an ex-boyfriend, clothes you never wear, beauty stuff you never use anymore. Be honest with yourself and get rid of anything that you no longer need. You will feel so much better afterwards and your closets will too! And of course, keep things tidy and clean. It will give you a nice feeling of begin in your room or apartment or wherever you may be living. You can even do some decoration if you have some stuff you wanted to put up in your room. You can support local business and buy online: plants, home decoration, bedroom amenities etc. By supporting them, you’re doing something in return for your community and sustaining your local economy.

Plan your next grocery shopping based on healthy food

As much as fun bingewatching, meditating or writing is: don’t forget to take care of your body. Especially during a pandemic, it’s important to get your vitamins and food that your body will thank you for. What works best is to make a grocery list – a lot of lists going on here, sorry about that – and hit your local supermarket. Get your fruits, get your veggies. If you’re not sure about the whole healthy lifestyle thing, look up some yummy recipes you would like to try out and start with that. I’m not saying you have to go full Nigella Lawson in one week, but try to make small steps to nurture your body with healthy foods & drinks.

If you don’t trust yourself in the kitchen, you can also order healthy dishes from local restaurants that offer delivery or take-out.

Remember: if possible, support your local stores and pay them a visit when you’re in need of essential products. It’s your way of giving back to your community and supporting them.

Wherever you might be, whatever you might be going through: I am there for you. We are all here for you. By giving yourself what you need, whether that’s learning something new, eating healthy or having a day of total Netflix-stalking: give it to yourself. You owe it to yourself. These are difficult times. It’s hard enough nobody can travel now, so let’s be gentle with ourselves. Continue dreaming about your trips and never leave that sense of wanderlust inside you unguarded. Dream big, salty soul!

Keep Your Travel Spirit Alive at Home

You just said bye-bye to your travel plans for the upcoming weeks, months even. You threw away that Lonely Planet guide to Colombia, because that’s for the bin now too. But even if hotels are closed, flight companies suspend their flights and you have to stay inside, you can always keep on dreaming. Don’t lose that fire inside you!

I’ve listed 7 ways on how to spend time at home and keep your travel spirit alive. Just because there are hard times outside, doesn’t mean we have to make it hard for us inside.

Cherish your previous travels

This is not a time of being sad and nostalgic: this is a time to be grateful and appreciative. Leaf through your travel journal, grabble through old tickets, scroll through your camera roll and relive your past trips. It will bring you immense joy and make you realize how lucky you are to have seen those beautiful places, conquered those courageous adventures and met those wonderful people. So smile, and be proud of yourself for how much you’ve seen and how much you’ve traveled.

Go through your souvenirs

Another way to relive those past moments and give yourself a pat on the shoulder is to open that big box of souvenirs. Whether it’s your fridge’s magnets, postcards, pictures or just random souvenirs: now is the time to look at them. This is that moment that you had in your head when you bought them. This is the time to reflect and let those memories flow. So sit down, grab your big box of souvenirs and think about the moment when you bought them. What were you doing that day? What were the highlights of that trip? What did you really enjoy?

Make photo albums for fun

These days, it’s hard not to take pictures when you’re on a trip. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a rookie who takes pictures just for fun, we all do it. Gather all your photos, on- or offline, and start making a photo album of every trip you made. You can do it by country, by city, how ever you like to order it.

Now is a great time to be creative, so let yourself really enjoy this. Go with the flow and make a fun photo book, or release your digital design skills and make one online, on MyAlbum, SnapFish, PhotoBox, etc. If you’d rather let someone else make it for you, support (local and) small artists who offer to make your projects online. During these times, it can be hard for small or local entrepreneurs to keep their businesses running. If they still offer online services such as a web-shop or on-demand orders and you want to make a contribution, you can do so in this way.

Write down your ultimate travel bucket-list

Let’s start dreaming! Now that you’ve relived your past travels, you actually gained something out of this: you got to know yourself better. Ask yourself: where do I really want to go next? What did I like about my past trips, and why did I enjoy that? Where can I find more of that? For example, I really liked my trip to Iguaçu Waterfalls in Argentina. because I love being into nature because it calms me and makes me appreciate our planet. So I know this know and I can start looking for more waterfalls or natural parks to go ti.

If you’re into diving, and you’ve had a great time in Curaçao while diving, good news: there are so much more beautiful diving sites! Think about what places you dream of visiting one day and write them down into a bucket list. It can be as long as you want it to be: the world is big enough.

Plan out your next trip to the detail

Now let’s shorten that list. Pick one destination out of your travel bucket list. Now start planning that trip. From activities to accommodation, try to look up all that you need for your next adventure. Don’t be afraid to feel pressured, you cannot really book anything now due to the current situation. Just pretend as if you’re planning this trip and think about the activities, tours, and adventures you want to go on while you’re there. Design your perfect voyage.

Discuss travel plans with your friends

We’ve all done a trip with a friend, family member or lover. And if you’re a core-hard solo traveler, I’m sure yo have met people along the way. Contact them, catch up with them, and let them know you were thinking about those great memories. Maybe you’re still active in a travel chat, Facebook group or other online community. Say hi to your (ex) travel companions, and who knows what nice conversations might follow. Maybe there’s even talks about future travels together.

Try meditation and visualisations to manifest your next trip

Let’s try something new: meditation. During these times, when many of us are at home, are great to relax, to be at peace, to return inward. Whether you’re already familiar with meditation or you’re totally new to it, I encourage you to try out a visualization meditation to manifest your upcoming trip. It works like this:

Picture your next dream trip. Really imagine what it feels like to be laying on that pearly-white beach. Feel the sun burning on your skin while sipping your cocktail on the beach. How does that cocktail tastes? How does the sand feel like? What do you see?

By imagining everything about this trip, you will feel like you are already there. It’s an amazing feeling, who doesn’t want that? By doing this frequently, the feeling of being on that trip will get closer and closer and your brain is a huge fan of visual stimuli. You will familiarize yourself with the picture and tricking your brain into believing you are already there. Until one day, you are. Visualization (meditation) has proven to boost your confidence, your immunity, to decrease levels of stress, anxiety and depression, and much more.

If you’re unsure about how to start this, then don’t worry: there are a lot of free meditations online. Whether on apps such as Insight Timer, Headspace, Calm, YouTube, or other websites; you’ll be sure to find a visualization exercise.

There are many ways to keep your travel spirit alive: whether you share it with others or keep your solo adventures cherished in your own heart, take this time to not only look back on past travels, but dream about future travels. Because this too will pass. It’s a time to take a break and just be – wherever you are.

10 Undeniable Facts About Being an Expat

Living abroad as an expat is a thrilling adventure paired with its ups and downs and something in between that. See, you miss your home, but you’re so happy with your new home. You’re not quite a local, but you’ve also passed the stage of being a tourist. You’re adapting to a new culture and country and you’re learning how to balance your old ways with your new life. And because this lifestyle is somehow in between everything and not always as glamorous or vibrant as it appears, I’ve listed 12 honest and non-spoken facts about being an expat.

Whether you are an expat or you are thinking about living abroad, we simply can’t deny these brutally honest and sometimes funny truths.

1. You don’t feel like a tourist… but you don’t feel like a local either 

When you first set foot on your new, hot destination, you’re overwhelmed with the joy and sense of adventure you’re experiencing. You feel at the top of a mountain, the beginning of a fresh start. You still feel like a tourist somehow, until you’ve discovered most things on your bucket list and you’ve been accustomed to the daily life in your new life.

After the newness wears off, the feeling of being a tourist gets replaced by the feeling of being a local. But you’re not. That’s made pretty clear by the locals who either don’t like the way you’re trying to speak the language with the heaviest accent someone could ever have, or by the fact that you still dress and talk like the unique mix of cultures that you are, and not like the locals. But hey, you feel like a local. You feel good and accepted. At that counts, doesn’t it?

2. You have the weirdest food cravings from home

One thing that surprised me the most about living abroad is that I used to describe the cuisine of my country as boring and not so tasty or special. (In case you didn’t know yet, I’m from Belgium). However, I found myself having cravings of Belgian sandwiches, chocolate (less surprisingly) and even random, greasy fried snacks I never thought I would ever miss, or even like.

At work, me and my Dutch colleagues could talk for hours, days, even weeks about food at our home countries. Yes, it really was our main topic. And it hurt so much that’s it’s so far away. And we’ve all been there: late night cravings of food that’s thousands of miles away. One of the most hurtful things, isn’t it?

3. You’re totally on a holiday mood… until your alarm goes off 

Living abroad, you’re living a good life. Sun is shining, you know you made a right choice doing this, you have a fun job – your pay check might be half of what you used to earn back home, but the quality of your life has easily been doubled, and you feel good.

That’s until you really get into the work life and routine and you realise you actually don’t have as much free time as you’d wish to have. So after that weekend or road tripping through the south coast and visiting beautiful exotic beaches, it can be depressing to have your alarm set for Monday morning at 6 am.

But I believe that you can make the best out of every day and fill your life with fun hobbies, after work activities and networking events. And little by little, that Monday morning feeling gets better and better. Not as good as a permanent vacation, but hey, you’re as close to that as it can get.

4. You start mixing up languages and create your own mix in your head

When learning a new language, it feels like your brain is making place for this and has to delete some old data – for me, using up to 6 different languages a day, it feels like I made up this new, unique, one-of-a-kind language, a mix of everything in my head.

However, you might experience this even by frequently using two or three languages simultaneously: you might stop in the middle of a sentence because you forgot how to say one meaningless futility or a special word you just can’t put your finger on.

But hey, keep rocking that multilingual life and keep learning that new language. Tell your brain to space up because this is happening alright!

5. FaceTime and WhatsApp become your best friends 

As you obviously won’t be able to see your close friends and family so often, you replace real-life contact with virtual contact: phone calls, text messages, video calls: you’ll find yourself talking to your mobile device for a lot of time.

Remember it’s really important to keep these relationships you have at home, but to also find a healthy balance between building up new relationships in the country you’re living in.

Don’t forget to go out and be social or spend time with your friends! Remember why you moved abroad and what was your motivation to discover a new country.

6. You miss the weirdest and smallest things from your country

Besides from random snacks cravings, you will find yourself missing on random habits, traits or events from your country. Special fairs or celebrations, gatherings you used to go to with friends or family or even transportation systems: nothing is too crazy. You got used to certain things and right now, they’re no longer in your life.

And that’s okay: it only makes you appreciate what you had back then and it makes you creative to look for others ways to “replace” that right now. For example, transportation systems: I never took a metro in Belgium and now it’s my main source of transportation. I miss having a car so so much, but I realise it’s not a good match: living in a vibrant capital doesn’t leave much practicality for having your own car.

It’s important to realise not everything is suitable for every destination or culture, and it’s perfectly normal to have these mixed feelings.

7. Visits and travels are what you live for 

Honestly, fellow expats, let’s all say it together: I love travel. I love being a guide to my friends and family and all my visitors.

Who has a fully detailed, scheduled itinerary of a citytrip to your city? We all do, let’s face it. We’ve all had several visitors and we’ve all given them the same tours over and over again. But we love it, because we are so proud of where we live, which city we chose, and how much we know this city now.

And, on another level, there’s the love for travel and adventure. And even though we have as much as free time as any working adult, we make time to travel and we find ways to have small adventures in your daily life. Small trips is what we look forward to the most, since that was our main goal of living abroad: discovering new grounds. 

8. You’re always dreaming about future destinations 

You can be as satisfied as you wish with your current destination, but we’ve all had thoughts about where to go next or how long we should still stay at one place.

“Oh well, a year has passed. But I’m not done yet. It’s okay to stay somewhat longer.”

“Oh look at the time, already two years have gone by. But I still haven’t went to that place…”

You know the feeling. We’re all dreamers who want to discover the world in all its facets. And as there as so many destinations and so many great cities to live in, it’s unstoppable to have these thoughts and dreams. It’s even necessary. Because if you would have never chased your dreams, you would never be where you are right now.

9. You start to realise home really is a feeling and not a place 

This might sound super cliché, but as you’re missing your home with your family, you also realise that you actually created your own, new home.

A friend of mine once told me: “The moment I have to change apartment, I will move to another city. No way I will be able to feel like home in another place than this one.” When I asked him why, he replied: “Because the moment I sit on my toilet in my bathroom, that moment is the only one that I truly feel like I’m home. I will never feel that sentiment anywhere else in this city.”

Everyone has their own way of turning a place into a home and creating that sense of home that you can’t find anywhere else. But you should never fear that you won’t have it anywhere else, since that sentiment came from you. You can take it anywhere. You can move it do different parts of the world, different countries, cities and apartments. It’s your feeling of home, and it’s there because of you.

10. You don’t really know what you’re doing, but you’re making the best out of it

Let’s be honest: do you really have a fixed plan? A 3-year schedule or your life? Or a shorter or even longer plan?

Me neither. Being an expat, you are very organised on one level, and totally loose and going with the flow on another level. It’s admirable, really. It’s finding a balance between I don’t know what I’m doing and somehow being connected to a goal or a purpose.

I think that’s what keeps us expats going: striving towards a life filled with new adventures, meaningful connections and beautiful memories. Discovering new lands and cultures and seeing a lot of this amazing world. And maybe we don’t have a detailed plan or a plan at all. But maybe thats exactly what we don’t need. 

Triple Travel Guide: Seville

Seville’s charms put a spell on me – read all about the magic of Andalusia’s ancient capital here – and who would I be to keep this charming and seducing city unknown to my dear readers? After my recent travel blog about Seville, this is a more practical guide to the blossoming Andalusian capital, sharing with you the three best places to visit, the three best dishes to try (and where to try it), and the best accomodations – whichever kind of traveler you might be. Because whether you rest you eyes on a king size bed or a bunk bed in a hostel: travel is for everyone, and the sightseeings and local dishes still stay the same. And that is why I have created yet another Triple Travel Guide. Enjoy, or, as the Spanish say, disfruta-lo!

What to visit

Real Alcazares €€

Feeling like a true king isn’t difficult in this Moorish decorative and ornate collection of beautiful royal rooms, immense and fresh green gardens, also known as the Real Alcazares. It served as a set location for the serie Game of Thrones, which made this location immensely popular – more than it already was. The general entrance costs €11.50 and you pay extra for other add-ons, such as the royal bedroom, which is €4.50. Buy the tickets in advance on the official website and avoid queues of +2 hours.

Plaza de España €

One of the most iconic plazas in Spain is undoubtedly Plaza de España, built for the Ibero-American exposition in 1929. A visit to this monument won’t leave you without a grand history lesson: this plaza surrounds four bridges, each representing the ancient kingdoms of Spain. Furthermore, the brilliant Alcoves of the different Spanish regions shine beautifully in their ornate of colourful tiles, each telling their own story about the history of Spain’s different provinces.

Entrance is free.

Metrosol Parasol

Las Setas de Sevilla (the mushrooms of Seville) are a unique landmark, visited abundantly by curious tourists and locals too. As largest wooden structure in the world, built on Roman ruins, now serving as an archeological museum – included in the ticket price -, these “mushrooms” are worth paying a visit to. Since Seville is relatively flat, you can enjoy stretched views all over town, providing you with a splendid oversight of all the city’s churches, cathedrals and other iconic buildings of matter.

Entrance is €3

What to taste

Cervecería Puerto Plata

Pan con tomate y jamón is a must-try when in Seville, usually eaten around 11a.m. as a late breakfast. If you like to sleep out (as I do), wake up slowly with a aromatic cup of coffee and taste a crunchy, warm pan con tomate y jamón and enjoy splendid views in front of you on the Plaza Ministro Indalecio Prieto, with in the background the sound of horses galloping rhythmically, transporting carriages throughout the old city centre.

Taberna Coloniales €€

This restaurant is known for its famous, traditional secreto Iberico (Iberian secret), a piece of meat originated from Iberian pigs, keeping the meat tasty and juicy inside, covered by a crusty layer on the outside.

Mama Bistro €€

Carrillada de Cerdo, braised pork cheeks in a variety of different sauces, is another typical Sevillian speciality and a must try-out when visiting Seville. The best one? Available at Mama Bistro.

Bonus: place not to miss

Estraperlo €€

An ecological restaurant with nothing but fresh, tasteful biological products, where the friendly and helpful staff’s only intention is to meet your needs as good as possible and treats you like family – and not to mention the wine collection is deliciously tantalizing.

Where to stay

For You Hostel

For You Hostel is a hostel of the hotel group Zenit Hotels. The benefit of a hotel group launching its first hostel? An experience that makes you feel the ease and luxury of a hotel, yet gives you the low rates of a hostel, and a comfortable and fully furnished bunk bed, inclusive of bathroom amenities, a reading light, curtains, international plugs and a soft pillow. Equipped with a bar, patio, kitchen, and other communal areas, feel free to socialize in this modern hostel, as the staff will be happy to help you if you have any needs.

Hotel Adriano Sevilla (&Café Pompeia) €€

My quest to a paella con pollo for one person led me to Café Pompeia. This modern and delightful bistro offers a wide range of classic Spanish dishes at a reasonable price, a warm smile from the staff and, above the fact you can have paella per person here, cozy uptown vibes with a location on the vivid calle Adriano. Above this bistro, you’ll find the charming hotel Adriano Sevilla, a chic, sophisticated, luxurious hotel with small prices for the quality you receive.

Hotel Casa del Poeta €€€

As multiple times winner of the Trivago National Awards, earning its title as best hotel in Spain, this lovely boutique hotel combines both relaxation and luxury while immersing you in the ancient history of Seville and at the same time being located in the heart of the Andalusia’s capital.

A Getaway to Seducing Seville

Seville. A magical gateway to the early Middle Ages inspired by the fairytale marriage of the Moorish architectural style palaces, castles and buildings, together with the Spanish, traditional flamenco-infused spirit, interrupted by the modern, vivid city centre and balanced out evenly by the flourishing green city gardens with its stunning statues, dreamy views and in the background accompanied by subtle strumming on the Spanish streets artists’ guitars.

Spending only two days in this city was a bare minimum – I crossed off the top items on my bucket list, such as visiting the Real Alcazares, Plaza España , las Setas, Parque Maria Luisa, and in the meanwhile, my trip didn’t lack some occasional, mind-clearing peaceful strolls through the city.

When visiting Seville, make a clear planning of what you want to visit. As popular attractions are rapidly sold out and waiting lines tend to lengthen quite easily, you might want to be sure to not miss out on any precious sightseeing time and book your tickets in advance.

Entering the Real Alcazares of Seville is a true journey in time and a taste of different cultures coming together in one ode to history, coherency and the royal class. As there are many royal rooms, tranquil baths and decorative patios, an organized map of your itinerary will help you visit the seeings you want to see most. Don’t forget to look up, down, to your left and your right, as the designers have spared no effort of creating effortless symmetry, detailed decorations and mesmerizing patterns.

Pass a stroll through Parque Maria Luisa to discover a tranquil assembly of gorgeous green gardens, orange trees and fountains, and find yourself in the midst of traditional horse carriages passing through the park. Make you way through the park and end up at Plaza España, of one Spain’s most iconic plaza’s, mixing up different styles of Spanish architecture, in a way an ode built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Hard to miss are the alcoves against the walls, each representing a different province and designed in colourful details, bounded by the pair of a book cover, holding information about each province.

The Metropol Parasol, also known as las Setas de Sevilla (the mushrooms of Seville), is the world’s largest wooden structure built on ancient roman ruins – also interesting to visit the archeological museum during your visit to this attraction in the capital of Andalusia. To fully enjoy Seville and its countless churches, squares and cathedrals, make your way to the top of las Setas and enjoy the stretched city views.

Let’s talk food. Seville’s mouthwatering tapas include berenjenas con miel (fried eggplant with honey), fried ansjovis, and the classic bites such as patatas bravas, salada russa, pan con tomate y jamon – which is also a typical dish to eat for late breakfast around 11 a.m. together with a coffee and splendid views on a patio or terrace, surrounded by sky-high palm trees and the subtle sound of flamenco dancers on the background. Be sure to stop by the ecological restaurant Estraperlo, where I had a tasteful and all-biological lunch, just outside the crowded Maria Luisa park, in the quiet, local neighbourhood el Platinar.

Getting around Seville is pretty simple: it is very walkable, I did not use public transport – except for the handy aerobus that brings you direction aeropuerto for only €4, and occasionally a requested Uber or city taxi, whose prices often combat each other. Furthermore, be sure to beat the crowds by getting up early and buying entrance tickets online – even for Metrosol Parasol, an entrance ticket is needed, so a little preparation in advance will save you a lot of time.

Visiting the charming city of Seville will capture you quickly in its magic, ancient Moorish history and architecture, while at the same time being the modern capital of Andalusia, a touristic hotspot for discoverers and Spain lovers. Taste the Spanish flavours, watch a flamenco show and lose yourself in the many attractions of this southern city.

A Guide to a Road Trip Through South Portugal

The South of Portugal has a lot to offer: wide stretched beaches, beautiful lagoon caves and freshly grilled seafood. After living in Lisbon for almost a year, I finally took the leap and went on a road trip through South Portugal. Because this three day trip was more than worth it, here’s my guide to you for a three day road trip through south portugal with exclusive local recommandations, tips on where to stay, eat and go, and much more. If you are planning on visiting Lisbon first, then check out my insider’s guide here.

Day 1

Driving Down Beach Lane

Today’s direction: beaches! Hop in your car and drive straight to the other side of the river in Lisbon. Offering a whole range of wide stretched Atlantic beaches, the Western Coast of South Portugal will keep you fulfilled for the first day of your road trip.

Some tips regarding renting a car in Lisbon: if you want to return your car the latest as possible, book it at an agency which is located at the airport – the agencies in town often close a couple of hours earlier. If you want to book a rental car without having hundreds or euros blocked on your credit card as caution, book with a company that offers a caution free rent – for example, Centauro (be sure to save time and pick up your car at the main building, you don’t have to wait at the airport). If you don’t have a credit card at all, you can easily use Revolut to create one.

Here you can find my map for this roadtrip with all the beaches listed and pinned on Google Maps. Be ready to visit these pieces of paradise:

Praia de São Torpes

Praia da Ilha do Pessegueiro

Praia das Furnas

Praia do Tonel

Praia do Carvalhal

Praia do Odeceixe

Praia da Arrifana

Praia do Penedo

Praia do Camilo

Praia dos Pinheiros

After heading to the South and driving past the West coast, you can drive to your accommodation – whether it be in Portimao, Lagos, or the romantic, beautiful and cozy village of Ferragudo where we stayed.

You can spend your first evening in the vivid and dazzling centre of Portimao. Enjoy some delicious and fresh seafood at Restaurante Marisqueira Carvi, a typical, local Portuguese restaurant.

Day 2

Surreal Cave Kayaking

Today, be prepared to use those arm muscles, because you are going on a 4-hour kayak or SUP tour around and in the Benagil caves. This is the best and most authentic way to visit the different lagoon caves, as you can enter them with your kayak or SUP – in contrary to other touristic boats which cannot enter them. Book your tour on Experitour, where you are sure of a safe handling of your order and you have an overview of all the best tours available for you.

During this tour, make sure to bring a waterproof camera or a waterproof case for your phone, because it can get wet! Nevertheless, if you go during summertime (June-September), you can be sure of pleasant water temperatures and a dive in the Atlantic ocean after the tour has finished.

But please, a little tip – when attempting to ascend the boat after your legendary jump in the water, don’t accept the help of the boat guide, because it will resonate in pulling him down in the water with you. So please, let us spare these guides because we all need them. Use the rope.

After the tour, energise yourself and stop for some lunch – not lanche (a Portuguese afternoon snack) at one of the many restaurants in blossoming Albufeira. Albufeira is really touristy, so make sure to keep walking through the touristic restaurants or enters small alleys, where you will find somewhat more authentic Portuguese or Italian restaurants.

¡Hola España!

Hop back in your car and prepare yourself for more vitamin sea at Praia Maria Luisa. After relaxing at seashore, the choice is up to you: either you drive to Faro and spend your evening there, or you drive through Faro and straight to the South of Spain. Crossing borders on a afternoon is really calm, there won’t be any hassle or waiting in lines.

You can also combine the two: drive through Faro to visit the city sightseeing through your car. Afterwards, you can drive to Isla Cristina, a nearby Spanish marine village, and watch an enchanting sunset at the port.

Day 3

Loosen Up In Lagos

This beach might be my second favorite from the whole trip. Praia dos Três Irmãos. It earns its popularity well, since this beach has it all: beautiful clear water, warm toned caves and rock formations spread over the entire beach. It almost creates a closed up bay, and attracts huge, long waves. It is mesmerizing just to be standing at the shore, watching the waves come and go.

If you’re feeling an afternoon snack or late lunch, you can always go to the local seafood restaurant Atlantida, located right at the beach. Ask for their homemade sangria, I can assure you, you will be far from disappointed.

Wonderful Wine Tasting

Next up: Wine tasting (to book yours, visit Wine Tourism Portugal, a website that gives you an overview of all the best wineries and activities that they offer throughout Portugal. We paid a visit to Herdade Canal Caveira and it was absolutely amazing. The owners gave us a whole tour of the factory and explained to us in detail the wine making processes. Then they offer you different together with bread, typical Portuguese sausage and cheese.

Praia do Vau

Praia de Carvoeira

Praia da Rocha

Setúbal

Arrábida

These are the final beaches from the winetasting location to Lisbon. You will also pass Setúbal and Sesimbra, as you can see on the map. While in Sesimbra, enjoy some local, fresh food at Lobo do Mar. Choose the fish you want made especially for you and enjoy it with some traditional Portuguese side dishes and wine. Oh and be quick for the desserts, because they may run out off soon! We just missed out on the bolo do chocolate (chocolate cake), I wouldn’t wish that pain to anyone.

Sesimbra

Afterwards, simply return your car back to the car center (if it’s Centauro, bring it back at the main office building) and enjoy your last evening in Lisbon. Boa noite!

Thalassophile’s paradise

The subtle wind brings you the smell of a salty ocean while your feet sink deeper and deeper in the soft sand. Every step brings you closer to the warm and beautiful Mediterranean ocean.

Palm trees cast a pleasant shadow over your body while you lay your feet in the burning sun. In the background, you hear relaxing music playing softly from the beach bar next to yours.

While resting your head on the soft pillow of your beach bed, your fingers slide through the warm sand while all your worries dissolve slowly.

The water surrounds your body and all the stress and worrying thoughts easily drift away from your mind. With every dive you take, the water becomes more and more pleasant.

There is a strong feeling arising, the urge of staying inside the refreshing and wavy ocean. You never want to leave again.

Thalassophile (n.) a lover of the sea, someone who loves the sea/ocean.

The Caribbean Paradise Curaçao

One of the main reasons I booked a trip to Curacao were the pearlwhite beaches covered by the lagoon blue waves and the deepblue, endless ocean.

Those aspects did not disappoint me.

What everybody should know before heading to Curacao, is that in the touristic parts, you almost feel like you’re on a set up beach in Holland. I did expect Dutch people there, but not so many. 

However, if you go to the less touristy areas and decide to blend in between the locals, you may find yourself between a mixture of Latinos and Antilleans. Party guaranteed! 

Another main reason I went to Curacao was to scuba dive. I got my PADI Open Water Certificate there. Yay me! I wasn’t the only one, and how could you even blame us? The coral riffs, the special species of underwater organisms, all together with a ocean so blue and warm it’s almost unreal. 

I recommend to take diving lessons or diving trips at diving center Pietermaai, I am really satisfied on all aspects and I am sure the crew will welcome you with open arms and you will have amazing dives.

Now, let’s talk about beaches. All the beautiful beaches are at the West Coast, but just before the centre of Punda you will find a small piece of beach with a dock, if you don’t feel like traveling far for a swim. 

If you didn’t rent a car like I did, it is pretty hard to go to the West Coast. So unless you know somebody with a car, your best option is to do a West Coast Tour. See all the beaches in one day. The lagoon beach, the pig beach, Cas Abao, Grote Knip, Kleine Knip, Porto Mari, the turtle beach, etc. A must see is the blue room. There is a funny and crazy captain who is happy to welcome you on board of hi ship to the blue room, an underwater shipwreck and underwater Buddha statue. As I said, really worth it!

“So what is there to do at night?”

“Well, it depends on what you want and what night of the week you want to do something. You see, every day there is something else to do on the island.” 

That answer was the one I got at least three times. And it’s true. You have beach bars, beach clubs, music bars, dance clubs, festivals,… I can suggest you some places like Mambo Beach and City Beach 88, but it’s best if you check Facebook while you’re there or just ask around.

You can have two types of vacations in Curacao: you can book a luxury vacation and don’t come out of your hotel or resort, or book a hostel and meet new people and build a social life in no time. I choose the second option. Claro.

So we have the beautiful nature, different areas and a nice social life. What else could you want?

The city centre’s colourful and picturesque architecture definitely left a fun impression behind. You find cute stories and even bank offices around ever corners, and the locals have an amazing sense of decorational styles.