Why Quarantine Made Us Better Travellers

During the past months, we went through a lot. However, it is important to not let these moments just pass by, but instead stand still & reflect on what happened & what we can learn from it. Also on the “travel level”, we have grown stronger and independent, gaining more skills as travellers. That’s right: by going absolutely nowhere, we still prepared ourselves for better travel experiences in the future. Read here about why quarantine made us better travellers.

Accept what you cannot change
Instead, change your reaction to it⁠

This was the biggest pil to swallow: change. Our entire lives changed. Isolation took away our sense of normality and nothing was the same. Whether that’s travel, seeing your friends and family, or even your job and day-to-day life: everything got cancelled.

However, we can learn how to accept what we cannot change by making the best out of it. Take a deep breath and think about how you can make this new situation work for you is all we did these last months. And that, my friend, is a valuable lesson while traveling.

As with travel, things don’t always go as we want them to go, but by recognising and acknowledging change, we can practice our resilience towards it – and ultimately, go with the flow & adapt to the new situation. When something goes wrong on our vacation, we try to fix it and come up with a solution. Treat your life the same way: with positivity & optimism.

Take a moment to look back on what changed in your life and how you can turn it around for the better. Maybe you discovered that you like working out from home & trying out different exercises. Maybe you discovered you need more of a personal trainer to guide you: on whatever level you faced changes, this is progress, too. Learn from it. Get to you know yourself more!

Appreciate what you have
No matter how small or big⁠

As things got taken away from us – our social life, our work life, traveling, and everything that contributed to your normal day-to-day life, what we were left with was not much. It was just us, inside our homes. But this was a blessing, and we realised that as well. However, moments or boredom arrived and we got to settle in again, enjoy the little moments, and finally take some rest.

“You don’t miss something until it’s gone.”

This lesson taught us how to appreciate what we have in life – our health, our family, a home, access to everything we need rapidly, and the freedom that we have and is slowly given back to us.

As with travel, we open up our minds in new ways. We see the world differently, and that is exactly what is happening right now. We gain a new perspective on the things we do have and we become more grateful for them.

We care more about the collective

One of the things we valued more and appreciated more is our health, safety & wellbeing. Whether that’s from us personally, a friend or family member. Knowing that you close & loved ones are safe is a beautiful feeling. On the other hand, we also cared more for our fellow human beings. Whether that is a stranger that was kind to you, or the general wellbeing of your country.

This is a principle that makes travel so beautiful: connecting with one another, caring about each other and being friendly & kind to the people that you meet. With all the current riots and protests going on, one message of hope was seeing this picture of hero Patrick Hutchinson rescuing a protestor, protesting for the complete opposite thing he was, from the crowd and possibly being trampled by the crowd.

There is still humanity, love and kindness in this world. Through travel, we broaden our horizons and trough standing up for each other, we show each other peace and kindness. On your next trip or neighbourhood stroll, take time to connect with someone – a cashier, a neighbour, or just a smile to a person passing by. Be kind towards one another. You never know what they are going through.

Re-purpose travel 

Boy, have we missed travel. That feeling of excitement when booking a vacation, that getting up early to catch your flight, that moment of arriving in another country and feeling it all – the new smell, the sun burning on your skin, checking in at your ho(s)tel, meeting new people, speaking a foreign language, strolling around in a small, cute village… The small and big things.

Because we miss it so much, we start to think about the deeper meaning of travel. Why do you miss travel? What makes you want to leave your home so desperately?

After finding this deeper meaning, you can re-purpose your future travels. By setting an intention for your trip, you get everything out of it. By travelling purposefully, you can transform through it. Reach personal goals. Grow from it. And that’s where I can help you in, as a travel coach.

Re-discover your country 

Another cool thing we have learned is domestic travel – it’s not completely new, but the travel restrictions have encouraged us to travel within our own country. I see many people leaving on road trips, discovering several parts of their domestic country – new places or known places. As we value more of what we have, this includes where we live – and if we realise that our why for travel is to relax and get away from our daily life, then we can do it in all safety in our own country.

There are many benefits of domestic travel, and I’ve listed them all here for you. Go check them out and start your new trip in your country! You’ll be surprised to what it has to offer you. Sometimes, the things we need are right in front of us.

SEAS the day & this moment 😉
Be present⁠

This is a BIG one. As we were isolated, bored, and missing out on travels, spending time with our friends and family, we only had the present moment. We learned how to fill it with useful things. We found new hobbies, started spending more time with our existing hobbies, and learned how to be here and now. We learned how to spend our time wisely and also how to seize this moment & this day.

We learned how to be here and now. Without any distractions or plans. As we tuned into the moment, we were really here. And during traveling, that’s finding the magic in the moment: being truly present.

Practising mindfulness is not only scientifically proven to be hugely beneficial for your mental & physical health, it contributes to our quality of life as well. Mindful travel is a huge trend as well, as people really want to tune into the moment, and take it all in. I will be soon writing a blogpost about mindful travel, what it means and how it can improve your travel experience, stay tuned!

Also: my course about self-growth is coming up. If you want to learn more about mindfulness meditation, practising gratitude, journalling & much more, put your name on the waiting list here & claim your 50% discount!

I hope these lessons have given you a fresh perspective on what we have learned, and what you can take with you. Remember these are unusual times, and if you feel like you need some encouragement or hold-on in the uncertainty, take a deep breath and think about what you DO have. Remind yourself to stay present & grateful. And then start planning your little domestic getaway 😉

If you ever need some guidance, confidence: 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. Schedule it here.

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.

20 Apps to Boost Your Self-Growth

You ask, you shall receive! I often share handy apps on my Instagram account – apps that help me grow, that inspire me & are deeply rooted in my daily life. After a while, you guys really wanted me to share these apps once and for all – so here it is, my list of holy apps that helped me in my journey of self-growth, spirituality & health.

I linked the names of the apps to the Apple Store for your convenience! This is not sponsored in any way, just a fan!

Personal growth
Shine

Having Shine is like having your own personal mental health coach at one touch. You get a daily Shine, or a check-in, featuring a new subject every weekday and an attached guided meditation + extra tools, such as: journalling, being grateful, checking in on your mood, etc.

Besides that, there is also the Shine community, where you are surrounded with like-minded people and can discuss the daily topic.

You unlock many more features with a Premium subscription, and they often have great limited deals on their paid, yearly subscriptions.

Happiness Planner

The Happiness Planner has become a part of my daily ritual. I love planning, and this app makes it easy and beautiful, plus you can sync it with the desktop version totally for free. Again, if you’d like to unlock extra features, be sure to upgrade.

Sanity & Self

Sanity & Self is your base for self-care and exclusive help and chats with experts. It offers mediations, podcasts, interesting reads and always someone who can help you & you can count on. However, the free content is very limited, so you’d be better off upgrading to the paid version.

Mindventure

Mindventure takes you on a journey through your own inner world. Plan and keep track of your habits, your day, your goals, on a unique way, on your own “road” towards becoming your best self. Like the word venture says, it’s a journey, an adventure through your life. The concept is very unique, fun and out-of-the box! Again, totally for free.

Mindvalley

Mindvalley is my favourite personal growth resource. I learned so much with their free masterclasses and interesting videos. Their app offers quests, which are about all kinds of subjects that have to do with personal growth and taught by many experts in the field.

Again, choose your fields of interest in which you want to learn more or improve and voila! Mindvalley often offers huge discounts on yearly packages of unlimited content, so keep an eye on those if you can’t get enough of it.

This is also a perfect part of your morning routine if you follow the move-reflect-grow method during your first hour of the day. Their quests are 20 min long. Perfect timing!

Remente

Remente was actually my very first self-care app I ever downloaded. Honestly? It was like coaching. It had a huge impact in my life and it got me started on the first steps of my self-growth journey. Fill in your wheel of life and update it regularly, check in with yourself daily and learn from lots of recourses and tools for you to work on yourself. The fun thing is they have resources themselves which are integrated within your profile. For example: if you start a 7-day course on becoming more fit, you will see the course on your to-do list every day for the next 7 days (unless you change it).

I immediately tried out their premium subscription to unlock the content, and as it was only around €30 for a whole year, I found that to be a great investment.

Meditation
Insight Timer

Insight Timer is the biggest meditation library. There are more people on this meditation app than all the others (Calm, Mindbliss,…) combined. That is for a good reason: there is so much content, so many experts, so many themes, and guided meditations. I also love their Sleep tool and their Timer. It’s for free, and you can upgrade to receive offline meditations, unlock courses, and use their advanced player which allows you to repeat or fast forward a track.

Breethe

Just the fact that this app has a soothing background music while opened, puts it high on my list! Besides that, this app let you choose your main goals you want to reach through mediation and then gives you the right content to reach them.

Oak

Oak is a great app to try out breathing exercises. Their free application offers themed meditations and breathing exercises to focus, calm or become awake. I often use their “Awake” breathing exercise during the day instead of a coffee. And I promise you, it works! You also earn fun badges the more sessions you do, which is a nice motivation.

Balance

Balance is the perfect app if you’re looking for personalised meditations. This app adapts to your level, preferences, and experience and utilises its algorithm to improve your meditation skills. I fell in love with it the first time I used it, and I also got hooked on their personalised 10-days programs, which motivates you to finish it and then hop on to a higher level. Again, this is totally for free – they had a free year of premium subscription during Covid-19.

Simple Habit

Simple Habit is a perfect meditation app if you’re in need of quick meditations at nay point during the day.

It has a super easy tool called “on the go’ which allows you to quickly tap on a theme you’d like to tackle right now – After Work, SOS, Taking A Break,…and you can adapt the time from 5-20 minutes.

It has helped me a lot during commuting, a break at work or just a quick break in between handling tasks.

Spirituality
Pattern

Pattern gives you insights based on your horoscope. The fun thing about it is: you get daily “patterns” – that are accurately true – and you can connect with Facebook to see the pattern between you and your friends. You learn about things you have in common, how your relationship looks like, and more fun & interesting facts and tips.

Moonly

Moonly is a beautiful app for all the spiritual goddesses out there. It offers your personal spiritual guidance, affirmations, runes, daily horoscope and more.

It comes in very handy as it gives you access to all your daily spiritual practices, all in one app!

It starts out free, but to unlock more features you have to upgrade to a paid subscription.

MOON

Moon is a very simple, aesthetic and accurate app about the moon cycle & phase. It’s great to count down the days until a full moon and it offers a great view of the moon & the stars.

Soulvana

Soulvana by Mindvalley is the resource to broaden your spiritual horizons, learn more about several themes & surround yourself by like-minded people, your soul tribe.

Health
Flo

This one is for the ladies. Flo tracks, predicts & supports your monthly cycle in a way that no app can – with courses, a community, secret chats & even a medical chat when you log certain symptoms. it is totally free, but there is a way to be included in the Premium subscription.

AYD – Ashtanga Yoga Days

This app is for the yogis out there! More specifically, Ashtanga Yogis! This app allows you to log your yoga sessions and its so detailed you can even log which pose precisely you did and how your balance, flexibility and effort was. You’re immediately part of a community and you see who had practiced today as well.

Zero

This is for the fasting people! Zero is a informative tracker that helps you to keep track of your fasting and provides important facts and information.

Books
Blinkist

Blinkist is the perfect tool if you’re short on time and big on book cravings! You can choose to either read or listen to your favourite book. I find it helpful to read informative books. Although I like to los myself in a book, sometimes it’s nice to immediately get the lesson out of it. Again, there is a paid version which allows you to unlock more content.

Charity
ShareTheMeal

ShareTheMeal is a great initiative that allows you to support all sorts of projects of the United Nations World Food Programme.

You can choose between which project you want to support or you can start a subscription and choose freely any amount.

The beautiful thing about this app is that you see how many families you have fed with your contributions and how many meals you have provided.

You can follow the whole process through the app – how these persons receive your contributions, what they bought with it and how they bought it.

I hope these apps will help you in growing and learning new things everyday. Remember that it’s important to take care of yourself. It doesn’t always mean eat snacks or get a manicure: sometimes you need to dig deeper and have a nice chat with someone. Especially during these challenging times, it is normal to want some support and guidance along the way.

These apps are not just apps on a phone: there are experts behind creating the content in a way that serves your wellbeing and that of others.

Furthermore, as your favourite life coach & travel coach, I am always there for you. Learn more about my coaching here. You can schedule a free intake interview with me here.

Travel After Of COVID-19: Tips & Hacks

How to Stay Conscious While Traveling During a Pandemic

Now that more and more destinations are re-opening their doors to tourism this summer, fall, or winter, all of you travel lovers feel it coming again. That travel bug. That little voice in your head saying, no, screaming: I want to travel!

As seen in my previous interview about the future of travel, it will look a whole lot different. Unfortunately, since we’re still in a pandemic, there are many things to be considered prior to boarding on your next flight to the first re-opened touristic destination. So not click on “confirm booking” yet, not without these travel tips and hacks.

Why Travel Now?
What Is your Real Reason?

First of all, take a look at why you want to travel now. Why do you want to leave the country? Why do you want to go on a trip? We all have deeper meanings buried under our prior motivations, so feel free to ask yourself the same questions a couple of times: Why?

For many, this can be: an escape from home. Seeking a silent, calm place. Maybe you have had enough tranquility at home and you want to spread your wings and seek adventure. Or maybe, you’ve had to endure a lot during this time and you just want to cool off and blow off some steam somewhere on a tropical location sipping margarita’s under a beach umbrella, without your screaming kids running around the place. We all have our different motives, so take a moment to decide on that.

Make Your Trip Great
Intention Is Key

Setting an intention for your next trip is key to making sure you know what your want and you will get what you want. If you just book the first destination that re-opens, but it doesn’t give you what you want, you’ll end up getting disappointed and not fulfilled.

Next, you’ll want to think abut what you want to get out of your trip. Again, is it peace? Is it adventure?

When you set an intention on what you want to get out of your trip, it’ll be much easier to stay in that frame and really have a great vacation that gives you what you need.

Choose The Right Place

Jot down a couple of destinations that come to your mind first when you think about your next trip (you know, the ones you’ve been daydreaming about and seeing daily in your Instagram-feed), and think about what activities or surroundings you want to be in.

Do you feel like hiking? Or do you want to go to the beach? If you’ve read about a destination that is re-opening their doors soon and you’re eager to visit it, you can try this in reverse: will this place fulfil my needs? Greece is opening their doors mid-July. Which island would be best for you? Since there are so many, they each have their own culture and character. It’s important to not get caught up in an impulsive deal just because you’re so excited to travel again.

Think about the consequences
For Yourself
Take health and safety measurements

Make sure to carry enough face masks, gloves, hand sanitiser, etc. You never know when you might need extra ones on your trips. And normally, yes, you should have access to them everywhere in the world by now, but you never know when these items could be sold out in the nearest pharmacies or supermarkets. I’m not saying you should bulk up – please don’t -, but just make you have enough at least make it to your hotel.

Also, think about your mental health: do you feel good about soon traveling again? Are you ready for it? Do you realise the risks, and health and safety precautions you have to take? And are you willing to do this? Seeing the world so empty and abandoned, walking around with a face mask and stepping into this new reality can feel overwhelming. Take a moment to check in with yourself and decide whether or not you’re ready for this.

For Our World
Research Your Destination
Follow any mandatory requirements 

This is super important: no matter where you go, make sure to look up the local health and safety precautions. Not only of the destination itself, but of your journey towards it, too. It most airports, it’s mandatory to wear a facemask. Make sure you’re prepared for this, even though if you’re traveling to an abandoned place and won’t need a face mask.

Tink about purchasing a travel health insurance so you’re covered in all cases. First, check with your normal health or travel insurance plans and see if they are already covering this.

For Others

Take precautions and keep yourself to the rules regulate by the local government. This starts the moment you leave your home.

Don’t be scared to talk to people: you can still have interesting connections and meetings while on holiday. Keep your distance and mask on at all times to protect not only yourself, but people you come in contact with as well.

Remind yourself it’s about the physical part of social distancing, not social distancing itself. Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone. Just because you’re both wearing face masks and keeping distance, doesn’t mean you can’t communicate with each other. We are still human beings who needs to connect with each other, and that’s a wonderful thing we should never stop doing.

For the Environment

Now that we stopped producing, ravelling and polluting, the earth is cleaner than ever before and is healing. Be conscious of the way you travel: can you travel by a more eco-friendly way, such as a train? Some airlines offer to recompense your ecologica footprint and with a small contribution, you can help them recover the damage of pollution.

Start Planning
Stay Up-To-Date

Take a look at what destinations have re-opened or will re-open soon. This is, of course, a crucial part of your travel planning. Grab your list of destinations you wanted to visit and see if any one of them has already communicated their opening date.

Travel Deals, Travel Deals Everywhere!

Make use of the flexible cancellations policies, waived fees and low prices before they go up again. Maybe you had a cancelled trip and you received a voucher: this is your perfect shot to get back your money’s value!

Airlines

Make use of the flight deals, hotel deals and other vacation deals while they last. A lot of travel companies. Check out this link for an overview of worldwide airline deals.

Star Alliance, which has 26 airline loyalty programs to offer, has made this page to check out all the Coronavirus updates of each airline member program.

Hotels & More

Here are some hotel chains that have updated their loyalty programs or extended their cancellation policies:

IHG (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental,…): extended cancellation policies, a new rate and the ability to upgrade faster to a higher teer level and keep your points valid longer than usual

Miles & More: mileage bargains, in addition to alternative ways to earn and redeem your Miles

Marriott: extended cancellation policies for all guests

Hyatt: flexible cancellation an extension of their member programs for all members globally

Tip: if you’re not sure on traveling yet, but you want to start saving loyalty points, you can always check out the credit card services of these loyalty programs. Often, you earn a monthly amount of points when you spend a certain monthly amount with the credit card. That way, you can shop from home and start saving up for your next trip.

Be Gentle With Yourself & Others

Travel is a tool we use to relax, to grow, to connect, to experience, to taste, to wonder, to go outside our comfort zones. The longing for travel is in our human nature. 

As this time is unseen, it can be very difficult for some. Keep in touch with yourself by journalling through your travels: write down everything that’s on your mind, no matter how small or how big.

Count On Your Support System

Ask someone to be your support system when things get rough 

Whenever you feel uncertain, anxious, of frightened by the situation, rely on your support system. Ask for the help of your close and loved ones to support you and guide you whenever you might feel like it.

Count On A Professional

We all need someone who motivates us, who encourages us, who supports us, no matter what.

As a specialised travel coach, I am here as a support along your journey, your inner & outer journey in this world. Get rid of everything that is holding you back, and step into your full power & freedom.

Schedule a free coaching interview with me here, and learn more about me & what I do here!

In these uncertain times, it’s natural and logical we are in need of some vacation. Set your intention for this new trip and to be clear with yourself on what it really is you are looking for. Follow health and safety precautions, wherever you go. Take advantage of travel deals, waived cancellation fees, and lowered prices now that it’s still ongoing. And finally, count on a support system to be there for you when things get rough. It’s normal to feel lots of different things now, and it’s even more important to deal with them on a healthy way.

Sahara Rose On Travel Coaching & the Impact of Covid – 19 On the Travel Industry

Re-purposing Travel with Sahara Rose Devore

Travel. Coach, Travel Coach, CEO, Interview
Now that travel is on hold, we are longing more than ever to escape to dreamy and exotic resorts. As the saying goes: you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

I consulted Sahara Rose, Travel and Business coach, CEO, owner of Sahara Rose Travels, LLC, and the founder of The Travel Coach Network™ . Her mission is to create the first and largest online network of travel coaches who change the way that the hospitality and tourism industries provide fulfilling, empowering, and transformative travel.

Being an expert and pioneer in this niche, she shines the light on re-purposing travel, travel coaching and the impact of Covid – 19 on the travel industry.


Sahara, let’s start from the beginning. Recently, I read an article in Forbes Magazine that said travel coaching is the new, hottest trend.
How did you come up with the idea to become a travel coach?

“I realised that there’s people like you and me who want to make something more out of a job, fuelled by their love of travel, but didn’t want to be a typical travel agent. There is a lot more to the travel industry than the classic jobs; there is so much more. That is what I encompass in my Travel Coaching Network: to encourage, inspire, support and guide travellers, mostly women, to do something more out of their experiences so they have something that makes them happy, gives them money, and they can create of their own — all while making an impact on the travel industry.”

“Travel coaching is all about empowering people, inspiring them, supporting them, encouraging them (…) so they can have the travel experiences, outcomes and results that they want.”

– Sahara Rose
Did you face any challenges building up your business, being a pioneer in travel coaching? 

“Oh yeah! It’s been a very long and bumpy road. When you start an online business and when you put yourself out there, there are so many opinions and feedback. During the first six months, people were so confused about what travel coaching really was — they thought it was the same as being a travel agent and that would make me so angry.“

How did you overcome that?

“I learned how to shift that anger towards shedding a light on my message so I could create clarity about what travel coaching really was. I even enrolled in a publicity program which has helped me so much — I got featured in over 40 media outlets: Forbes, Business Insider, Thrive Global, …— all to put my message out there.”

You quickly progressed from traveler to travel coach. What has led to you become a coach for travel coaches, too?

“When I was getting started, there was no one that I could turn to. I wanted to create what I needed and what I wished someone else had provided to me. I wanted to make it easier for other travellers to go down the road of travel coaching. My program contains everything I did to get there — from how to start a business, to marketing, software, defining your niche — it took me a year to accomplish this (though, I am forever learning). I am glad I didn’t have the resources then because it gave me the opportunity to start TCN to pave the way for others.”

“The concept of starting all of this submerged after I began. I thought travel coaching already existed because it made so much sense for me. One day, I got a message from someone that was interested in becoming a travel coach and who didn’t know anything about it. I wondered why they were asking me about it instead of just Googling it. I just thought it just made sense — until I Googled it and saw that nothing came up. Then I just ran with it, I knew I had to take ownership of it.”

“We need to follow our hearts and create more of what hasn’t been done before.”

– Sahara Rose

“I created the TCP (Travel Coach Program) — which is now going through a beautiful transformation to a certification program, it will be the only certification travel program available right now — what is exactly what I was looking for after 10 years of travel, when I was getting started. There is so much more us girls can do to make an impact.”

Let’s talk about the current corona situation and the travel industry. I just read your article in Thrive Global about introducing a new way of travel after the COVID-19 crisis.
Tell me more about this shift that is happening right now.

“Before covid-19, people went to travel for deeper reasons but they failed to acknowledge why they were travelling or they didn’t know how to use the experience to enhance their wellbeing. So much research has shown that travel enhances your wellbeing in many ways: cognitively, mentally physically and spiritually. There is so much depth in there . Because we can’t travel, we miss travel and we are realising why we valued it so much in the first place.

“People have fears but they are not afraid to overcome their fears.We will be looking to travel as an outlet to help us get through what we were in for so long.”

– Sahara Rose

“This is the time where people are struggling with so many things at the same time: emotionally, mentally, physically (not being able to be outside), and travel was able to help us with this beforehand. Now that we are in isolation, we are ever more yearning for it. The travel industry is going to bounce back (our human desire to travel is very resilient) but it’s going to be different. People are going to re-purpose travel to help us through what we went through with COVID-19, to better ourselves and our lives and to give us clarity.”

How can travel coaches step in? How does this influence the niche? 

“That is a great spot for travel coaches to come in and say: I can help you obtain that. It’s all about empowering people, inspiring them, supporting them, encouraging them and helping them figure out the right tools and resources so they can have the travel experiences, outcomes and results that they want.”

What do you think this new future of travel will hold?

No one knows yet. But as far as the big travel industry leaders are saying, people will be looking for more in-depth experiences, more meaningful experiences — which is what travel was for me all along. The travel leaders talk about the new depth of travel and helping people focusing on their wellness and enhancing their wellbeing. That is, as far what I can say, what the future of travel will look like.”

How will the average traveller experience this?

“People always have fears, for everything. After 9-11 people were very scared to travel. That was a time when the travel industry and the people were shocked. But people are resilient: we are native travellers, we have an internal desire to travel and travel leads us to so many ways. We have to reflect on how can travel benefit us for the future so we can live healthier, stronger lives.”

“People have fears but they are not afraid to overcome their fears. That is a great place for travel industry leaders and travel coaches to give a helping hand. That’s what I love about travel coaching: providing that encouragement and empowerment and support because it is what people are going to need. We will be looking to travel as an outlet to help us get through what we were in for so long.”

Who inspires you the most as a (travel) entrepreneur?

“David Meltzer was my very first mentor and he is someone who has overcome a lot of setbacks and he built everything back up again. His perspective and the way he gives back to people has always been an inspiration for me.”

“However, there isn’t really someone in the travel industry that has inspired me is because people are doing a replica of what someone else does in a different way: eg. starting a new hotel line. There hasn’t been a lot of disruption in a good way. There is so much more to travel industry than to create what’s already been done. We need to follow our hearts and create more of what’s not been done before.”

If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you go?

“Right now I would love to go back to Israel. I fell in love with Tel Aviv: the scenery, the people, the beaches, the nightlife, the food, everything. But also; Tel Aviv is a booming tech industry and they focus on the wellness industry. It’s the second most uprising tech industry and that has always intrigued me. I was supposed to be there now and I’m itching to go back there — I’ll probably go live a couple of months there when this is all over.”

Do you have any tips for beginners in the field of travel coaching?

“I always tell people to look within: what does travel means to you? What do you love most about travel and what got you to choose this industry, above all the others? Why is it that travel has put you on this path of wanting to help people and make a difference, make an impact in some way on yourself and on the world? Find out what is true to yourself and all these things in your life, then you can include travel into it so you can better help people make a difference in their lives.”

“There is so much more us girls can do to make an impact.”

– Sahara Rose

“Go back to your story and see where it began. What has drawn you to travel, what transformations has it given you? Often, in travel, we overlook all of this and we just say: I love to travel! When you’re able to figure out what travel means to you, then you’re able to figure out: Who do I wanna help most? Who identifies most with my story?”

“My definition of travel coaching is it being very authentic: helping people in a way, from your authentic travel experiences, that resonate with you, your story, your expertise and your skills. Everyone has something different to offer and is can stand out from the rest.”

After starting up her own Travel Coaching business, Sahara Rose took the next step to train future travel coaches in the making to provide fulfilling, empowering, and transformative travel. After the COVID-19 crisis, a re-purpose of travel will take the lead, as we travellers will use it as an outlet to get through what they went through. As people are resilient, the urge to overcome their fears and everything they are struggling with after COVID-19 can be resolved through purposeful travel and a travel coach guiding them along their journey.

Six Surprising Benefits of Being an Expat

»So, here you are. Too foreign for home, too foreign for here, not enough for both.» -Ijeoma Umebinyuo

Although this quote might seem somewhat sad for some of you, this is the perfect caption of the life of an expat. And it is not at all sad, it is unique in all its ways. Being an expat to me is truly wanting to explore a new city, country, culture, and that desire for exploring goes further than just a holiday. It makes you leave everything behind and make a jump into the unknown. But what are benefits of being an expat, apart from the obvious – moving to your dream destination or accepting that dream job? In this article, I’ve listed six surprising benefits of being an expat.

1. You Develop a New Culture in Your Life

The life of an expat is very diverse. You are born and raised in a certain culture, country and city. You move out of that bubble, out of your comfort zone, and start a new adventure. You open yourself up to learning all about a new culture and integrating in this new way of life with a curious and open mind.

On this adventure, you do not only get to know that new culture and carry your own culture from home; you also develop your own kind of culture. This new kind of culture consists of a mix of the traditions, values and manners you picked up from your old home, your new home, and your way in between.

See it as a kind of combination of how you processed all these cultures and how you deal with them in your life. I see this change, this growth, in my own life: I grew up in Belgium, lived in Spain and now in Portugal. In my own home that I created here, I don’t live by Belgian traditions, nor Spanish or Portuguese. I merely live a mix of all three of them. And then my families are of Greek and Italian roots. So you can imagine it gets all mixed up. But that’s what makes the home of an expat so unique and special.

So at the end of the day, it’s a lot of cultures and values to keep up with. But that is the beautiful part of it: you mold it all together and create something that’s completely one-of-a-kind.

2. You Develop a Unique Way of Seeing Things

As you meet people from different origins, you start to notice different forms of communication, may it be expressions, gestures or slang. But not only the communication, verbal and non-verbal, are important here; it’s also about the mindset and mentality of the people you meet. In Southern countries, people tend to be have a different way of living than in Northern countries. Many would say Southern people are more »relaxed» and live by the thought of »tomorrow is another day».

Let’s say you move from a Northern country to a Southern country. It would be difficult to adapt to this lifestyle: meetings are not always punctual, and appointments may not even be liven up to. You might get frustrated or not be able to understand this. But after a while, you know how to live up to meetings, dates and appointments because you adapt to this way of life. And you do realize that if something doesn’t happen today, then there is another chance tomorrow. So relax. And maybe you needed this little piece of mentality. Maybe you needed to take some stress off your shoulders in your daily life.

This unique way of looking at life and communication with people is very valuable and can be used in various areas of your life. The way you deal with situations has changed because you have learned and grown. If you can leave to an unknown place and build up a whole new fulfilling life, then what aren’t you capable of?

3. You Gain an Inner Sense of Courage

Not too long ago, I had a dinner planned with locals. Lots of people would look forward to it and just go for it. I didn’t. I didn’t want to go, because I was tired of forcing myself to build up conversations in a language that I’m not strong at, with people I barely even know. I just wanted to stay at home.

But then I realized why I came here. Why I moved abroad. Why I am where I am now. And something inside me said to go for it. It’s just a meaningless dinner, but go for it. Meet these people. Speak the language. Make mistakes. Laugh about it. Learn from them.

So, I gathered all my courage and kept thinking about the center of it all, the reason behind it all, and the more I thought of this center, the less I wanted to stay at home. All of a sudden, it looked like an opportunity I couldn’t skip out on. Meeting new people ánd having a chance of learning the language? Yes, please!

Because I went back to the core of why I am doing this, I gained courage and motivation to go out there and meet new people. I gained the strength of being an apprentice and accepting that it is okay to make mistakes, to use the wrong words. It’s important to have a laugh about it and then learn from it.

4. You Process Homesickness in a Different Way

This may sound vague, but it is a principle that can be applied to in various areas of your life. As an expat, you miss out on a lot of things. At the homebase, your family and friends are continuing to live their lives. Because of your new lifestyle and job, you will probably miss out on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries etc. Even on random, average days, you will miss your close ones.

But that all makes you realize what you have: a family, friends, close ones. It makes you process homesickness on a different way: you may be missing your family, but you feel grateful to have a family and a second home to can always go back to. That awareness is super important, as it gives you more strength. For the sake of adventure/a partner/a job you moved elsewhere, and the consequences are you will miss what’s not there.

I even started missing some types of food or drinks from my hometown I never thought I’d ever miss. But that makes me realize how cool my hometown is and what I actually have in my life.

5. You Acquire Skills on Different Levels

Besides from surviving completely on your own – an accomplishment an sich – expats tend to develop a variety of skills during their adventures abroad. Whether it be learning a certain language, cuisine or professional skills, there is always a win-win situation when it comes to learning new things.

You become more open to try new experiences, such as social gatherings or discovering a new place. It doesn’t scare you off, because you already acquired that skill to overcome fear of change. I’m not saying moving to another country will give you nerves of steel, but it certainly helps you in developing a stronger sense of courage.

Let’s say you have to go to a hospital in a strange country. The first time, this is a scary and difficult thing to do: you don’t understand the language, you don’t know how everything works, and you’re not from there so you don’t feel comfortable or people might not be helpful or welcoming towards you. After having done this in a couple places or hospitals, and figuring out the local manners and language, you become more adaptable to being in this uncomfortable situation and how to approach people and ask for their help. You know how it goes, what you did wrong the first time and how to do it right.

There are several skills and experiences that help you while living abroad. And the more you experience (and fail and learn and try again), the more you grow.

6. You Create Your Own Lifestyle

Moving to another country means building up an entire new life. You create a second life, on top of the one you have had your entire life. You rent a house which turns into a home, you meet people who turn into friends, you find a job which turns into a new passion and you begin a new start which turns into a whole new life.

The freedom to choose your surroundings and lifestyle is a huge advantage. I am convinced people need space to grow. If you want to grow a plant but you leave it in the dark and don’t water it, it won’t grow. As plants need space, light and water to grow, us humans need space and an open mind to grow. And creating a lifestyle that resonates with what you want, is the best way to do this.

Becoming an expat requires a lot of courage, sacrifice and most of all: dreams. Dreams to start a new life, to meet new people, to learn new things. Motivation and passion to being a new adventure are crucial. For whatever reason you might have read this – maybe someone in your environment is an expat – I sincerely hope this gave you new insights about how and why we do this. And if you are thinking about becoming an expat and moving abroad, then I hope these six surprising benefits of being an expat have helped you and gave you a little push in the back.

Venice, a Romantic Fairy Tale Village


I had to admit that I didn’t have high hopes when visiting Venice. When I asked others about their experiences, the top three answers I got were: too touristy, too hot and too expensive. In other words; Venice didn’t sound to charming. Still, I went on a solo trip to the small island and I have to admit, I’m pleasantly surprised. 

What I do recommend, if you’re on a budget, is to stay in Mestre. Mestre is not located in Venice itself, but on the mainland of Italy, at the other side of the bridge that connects Venice to the mainland. From Mestre, you can easily take the train for €1,30 single ride and you’ll be in Venice in 10 minutes.

Venice is a surreal city. Imagine hopping on and off bridges all the time, wandering your way through the very small streets in the charming city. Once in a while you interrupt your wanderings with a stop in a local bar for a glass of homemade prosecco, or you treat yourself a delicious Italian spaghetti carbonara in a restaurant at the waterside. 

I got seduced by the smell of fresh pizza and made a stop at a local yet popular pizza place where they let their pizza dough rise for at least 24 hours. The current count when I was there was 32 hours. You can only imagine what the pizza tasted like.

Okay, now I’m wandering off too much to the food-side. Views-side, there is a lot to see in Venice. I was afraid I couldn’t see everything in two days, so I booked a Tripadvisor-tour. Unfortunately, I am a free spirit. A free bird. And you can’t lock a free bird in a cage. So, when people started to approach me asking if I was the tour guide, a little alarm bell rang in my head. I’m so different from these people, why am I here?

When the tour began, we all had our headset on and the tour guide had a stick with a flag (yes, really) and, at that moment, another alarm bell rang in my head. Should I turn around and leave right away? I actually want to explore this city on my own and freedom calls me!

I stuck around a little but more and then I escaped the tour. I told the tour guide I was sick, gave the headset back and took off. 

Freedom never tasted so good.

I ran into the little streets and where tourists went right, I went left.

I decided for myself that was the way I was going to explore Venice. Just as I did in Malta. 

When sunset fell, I fell too. For Venice. Piazza San Marco lights up with magical colourful gradients of light as the night fell.

The vivid nightlife of Venice charms the floating city. At night, when most of the tourists went back to their accommodation, all the locals come outside, and go to bars and restaurants. Many little shops are still open and the atmosphere is so much different than during the day – Venice during the night has a calm vibe, yet it’s vivid, and so authentic. 

A 4-Day Glimpse of Magical Morocco

Are you going to Marrakech? Cool! Oh wait… Alone? Why? Are you sure? What are you doing to do there? Aren’t you afraid something might happen?

These reactions might seem familiar to some solo (female) travellers. I can’t really say my friends and family were happy with my decision of going on a holiday to Marrakech by myself. However, this is your life and you should do whatever it is that you want. Of course, a basic thing to do before a trip is research in the culture and ways of the country. So, my message to you is: seas the day, go for it. And so I went. And I didn’t regret it at all. 

Marrakech City 

I only spent four days in Morocco and luckily, I had arranged everything through the Riad I was staying at. I booked three full day tours with them for a bargain (in total €110).

On day 1, I stepped into my first adventure one: a tour by a local through the old centre of Marrakech. This 5- hour tour was completely private and I was accompanied by an old, local tour guide who explained me everything about the palaces, tombs and traditions of Marrakech. The perfect way to start discovering Marrakech.

If I should describe Morocco, and more specifically Marrakech, in a one word, it would be: authentic. I was surprised by how the locals called this city “touristy” since there wasn’t a single shop there where the products weren’t handcrafted.

I don’t think any traveler in modern history has successfully went to Marrakesh without buying anything in one of these original shops. You just can resist them! Handmade jewellery, bags, shoes, lamps, carpets,… In the beginning, you don’t think you need these stuff. You are wrong.

Camel ride

One of the things that was definitely on my to-do list when in Morocco was experiencing a camel ride. My dream would be to ride on a camel trough the Sahara desert, but unfortunately, due to my short citytrip, that location got adapted to the palmtree forest just outside Marrakech.

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Essaouira 

If you feel like escaping the crowded Marrakech, you can get a glimpse of the real Morocco by taking a day trip to Essaouira, a picturesque, little town located at the West coast of Morocco. 

During the three-hour car ride to Essaouira, it’s common that you have two stops on the way. The first stop is at an argan oil “factory”, where lovely ladies are handcrafting argan oil and you can buy lots of argan oil based products. 

Fun fact: these ladies can explain you everything in English, French, Italian, Arabic, … Moroccan people are very multilingual and, for some reason, this is a quite unknown fact to others. In Morocco, you can learn up to 8 languages during your school career.

The second stop on your way to Essaouira is at argan berry trees. This was the most funniest thing I’ve ever seen. The tradition is all about goats. Goats are literally standing in the trees, on the tranches, and chewing on the berries of the trees. Then, they spit out the berries, and the people collect them and process them in the argan oil. This is what makes argan oil the GOAT of all oil products. – Get it, the goat?

Essaouira basically consists out of a cozy centre with small, crowded, beautiful ornamented streets full of decorated shops. Don’t expect any factory made products: everything is hand crafted; clothing, shoes, cosmetic products, medicines, musical instruments, etc. 

When traveling alone, it’s important to be open to meet new people and hang out with them. It makes your journey so special and fun! Don’t get me wrong, you need your time alone as well. But it’s fun to travel in groups now and then and experience new things. Thats what traveling is all about. New places, new feelings, new people, new experiences. 

Ouzoud waterfalls 

The most memorable thing of my trip to Morocco was definitely visiting the Ouzoud waterfalls. Be prepared for a three to four hour hike through the Atlas mountains, starting from the top of the waterfalls, going to the bottom and ending back at the top. Don’t stress out: you will have some time to rest in between and have a local, freshly prepared tangine with some delicious, sweet moroccan tea.

You’ll also bump into some monkeys on the way. Fear not, they are harmless and won’t do you any harm. Be sure to hide your food, as they are not ashamed to take your morning croissant right out of your hand.

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The views of the waterfalls are absolutely amazing. I had the privilege to witness a rainbow covering these waterfalls. It was stunning.  

Tip: Book your tours and trips through your hostel, hotel or riad. They can arrange everything for you and often make a good deal when you buy everything from them. Pick-up at your room, a (private) guide, transport, sometimes even meals are included. That way, you are sure of your booked tour.

I can definitely recommend visiting Morocco or certainly Marrakech. If you want to experience another culture than Europe, but don’t want to take your trip too far way, this North-African destination is a perfect choice.

Malta, a Ravishing Island of African & Italian Influences

Malta, you stole my heart. With its charming streets, tropical islands and romantic architecture, Mediterranean Malta really is a stunning island. Their mixed influences, as an ex-British colony and located between Italy and Africa, resolve in an original and unique style throughout the whole island. 

First day – Wandering In Valletta

What I recommend you to do – if you ever go to Valletta – is to book a stay in the centre, get up early, and just walk. Wander. Explore. Get lost. Throw away that map, Google Maps, whatever. This city is made to explore impulsively.

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I had no idea where I was going. I walked through small alleys, managed to survive very steep streets and took time-outs to enjoy peaceful ocean views. Their beautiful architectural style can be described as Baroque with an Italian touch and British influences – the Maltese Baroque style, one of its kind.

Upper Barrakka Gardens

The most stunning place was the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Because it is built on a high point in Valletta, it offers a lookout over the whole city. You can even see the The Cities (Birgu, Senglea and Bormla), which are three medieval, fortified cities, located next to each other.

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Lower Barrakka Gardens

Afterwards, I stumbled onto the Lower Barrakka Gardens – this is comparable to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, expect for the views and the location – as the name suggests, these gardens are located more lower than the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Again, these natural gardens with an influence of old Greek architecture had many feasts for the eye.

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At night, I stumbled upon a huge building, and when I entered, I found food heaven. This place was featuring the best restaurants in Malta, each representing a different culture and offering fresh food. A Maltese friend told me that this used to be an old market and that they recently turned it into a modern “market”. It’s called Is-Suq tal-Belt, remember this name, fellow foodies!

Talking about food: when in Malta, you should definitely try pastizzi -inspired by the Greek (thero)pita – and ftira – inspired by the Italian focaccia.

There is also a museum of armoury, so filled with soldiers costumes and weapons, very interesting. And also, talking about soldiers: you can witness the soldiers’ salute every day.

Second day – City life in St Julian’s

St Julian’s is not far away from Valletta, but this city is very different from the capital town. St Julian’s offers beautiful harbour views, a lot of restaurants clubs and beach bays where you can chill out. It’s called the Vegas of Malta for a reason. You will notice a big change in social life and the population- St Julians has a lot more younger people, bars and parties in the city than Valletta.

What you can do best in St Julians, is walk at the coastline all the way to Sliema. This way, you’ve seen all the best spots at seaside.

Tips for St Julians are eating in The Avenue (mediterranean food), Vecchia Napoli (Italian food) and Gululu (Maltese food).

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Third day – listening to the sound of silence in Mdina, The Silent City

Mdina is a small village where time (and noise) are unknown. Walking around in Mdina is like walking around in a fairytale; it’s so calm, so silent and so unreal. The buildings are so cute and of beautiful architecture.

When in Mdina, try the chocolate cake at La Fontanella – you won’t regret it. Also, there are two palaces in Mdina open for the public. Here, you can go upstairs and enjoy the views.

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Fourth day – Views from the Blue Grotto 

My trip was going as planned, everything was going perfectly. I fell in love with Valletta, experienced the nightlife in St Julians and sought out silence in Mdina.

In my case, that means something has to go wrong. That’s just how my life works: yin and yang. Gotta stay in balance, you know.

Full of energy and positivity, I hopped on a bus to take me to the Blue Grotto the next day. The trip to the Blue Grotto, which is in the south of the island, was my furthest trip.

When I finally arrived after a bus ride of two and a half hours, I enjoyed the views from the cliffs before heading down to do some diving, a boat tour through the Blue Grotto, etc.

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Once I succeeded to walk down to the coast, I was eager to find out which boat would take me on a tour and how this diving thing works. But all I saw was one paper with “CLOSED- call this number for support”. Turns out they were closed – unforeseen – because of the windy weather.

Well, now at least my life has come back to a healthy balance now.

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Fifth day – Mini-island life in Gozo

Close to Malta, you can find Gozo. Gozo is a small paradise with only a few hotels and attractions. 

The trip to the ferry station is long, but easy. There is a direct bus ride from Valletta to Cirkewwa ferry station that lasts almost two hours.

Once you have arrived at the ferry station,  you just get on board for free. When returning from Gozo, you have to buy your ticket for €4,60. Ridiculously cheap for two boat trips of half an hour.

When I arrived at Gozo, I saw everybody walking to the buses for hop-on hop-off tours, but honestly, never in my life have I done such a tour and never will I ever do. Why sit all day in a bus and drive past everything when you can experience it completely different?

So, as usual, I walked in the opposite direction of the other tourists and wandered through the island. It was a wonderful experience. Although, again, the transport was a bit of a bummer. In Gozo, you have beautiful spots at the other side of the island. The harbour and the village itself were so calm and beautiful.

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Sixth day – The Three Cities

My next and final stay was in Senglea, one of “The Three Cities”. I stayed at the loveliest guesthouse and really felt like a local.

I’ll be honest with you guys: it seemed that there was no sign of life anywhere in Senglea. The weather wasn’t very nice, but there was literally no one outside and everything was closed, even though it was Carnaval and it was a Monday.

I explored Senglea and despite these circumstances, I didn’t regret visiting Senglea at all. It’s a small part of land and crossing the village only takes a ten minute-walk. In other words: you have sea side and charming  harbour views everywhere.

Just say “garden” and I’ll be there

Besides the Barakka Gardens in Valletta, another must-visit are the Gardjola Gardens in Senglea. It’s is much smaller than the Barrakka gardens, but equally beautiful.

The other two cities are like Senglea: charming, small and full of beautiful Maltese buildings. I do recommend you to visit these three cities in one day, because my two-night stay in Senglea was a bit long, especially because of the lack of life in town.

Seventh day – Valletta Carnival 

The second last day of my stay, I decided to visit Valletta once again. Today was the fourth day of carnival, and the Maltese people were still going strong. I’m not really a fan of carnaval and my attempts to avoid it succeeded very well until this day. The main streets in Valletta were blocked because of the carnaval parade and there was way too loud music, but the atmosphere was nice.

Maltese people really celebrate carnaval.

I left the city centre. It was time for some Valletta- wandering. I discovered new hidden gems in Valletta, unfortunately I cannot tell you where exactly of how I got there. When in Valletta, take a day or two to wander in the city, walk in streets nobody else walks in, and explore hidden places.

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I left a piece of my heart in Malta. I’ll definitely visit this island again. I really felt the vibe, it was amazing. The locals were welcoming, warm and really friendly. As you have read, I also had typical ups-and-downs moments, but that’s part of travel (and life), right? Yin and yang.