DIY Traveling: Planning, Pleasure or Burden?

When I was a kid, my parents kept on telling me that I was laking organizing skills, that I was all over the place and that I will never be a good planner. It looks like time really made a difference and I have changed my habits around. As you probably have guessed for me planning a trip is one of my favorite parts, so how can you go from seeing it as a burden to having fun while organizing your trip? Read along and you shall see!

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Find the place that you want to travel to! 

Clearly, the first step would be to know where you want to travel to, and if you don’t know specifics (like I want to go to Greece because I love the food and the sea), at least think of what you would like to get out of it ( see a new place, go to the beach, hike, surf, go with the kids, see a fancy place, hot weather in the winter, ski, etc.).

If you have no idea what so ever, you can also ask this on a group that is dedicated to traveling, people can wight in and give ideas. Since I have plenty of ideas on the subject, I don’t really have a problem with choosing where I wanna go, but I do suggest you create a list of dream destinations, will make your life easier. Mine can be seen here.

Visualize the place!

Let’s say that you have five places that I would really like to visit and you would like to get more information about them, you can create a Pinterest board and you can do your research there. Here I suggest you focus more on the experience that you would have there, rather than just scratching it off your list (For example, I want to go to Bali to see the rice fields and the temples, rather than I want to go to Bali because is cheap and I can take great selfies) .

The board that I am using is this one, Future Plans and I add and remove destinations from it. Before I really start thinking about a trip, I want to know what are the specifics, prices, dress code, religious celebration dates, rainy season, vaccination and so on. I do this even before I look at budget since I want to know if it’s doable in the upcoming period or maybe I need to postpone it for next time.

Budget!

Yeap, the big and scary one is here and we need to talk about it. If you don’t have a budget great, you can pass to the next point, but most of us do, so plan it wisely. As much as we would like to think we can go anywhere in the world with a small budget, it might not be smart. Personally, I prefer to save some of the trips that I have in mind for later, if I know I wouldn’t have the money to do what I would love to. One example would be the Maldives, yes I can go on a budget and stay on the island, not on the sea bungalows, but that is not what I want, therefore I wait until I will be able to have the kind of experience that I desire. I don’t usually return to the same destinations, so I want to make sure I don’t go home with the regret of not being able to check everything I wanted to do.

Getting back to the budget you need to split the costs between transport, accommodation, food, tickets or trips, impulsive shopping and safety net.  

Transport -> Depending on the location you can choose to go by plane or by car, personally I prefer the plane since it’s a lot faster and I am doing a few too many road trips in the country. Most of the time I use Momondo to search for the best deals, what it does, it compiles a list of all travel companies and you can easily compare prices.

A while back I have written a full post on tips and tricks with how you can find the perfect deals for plane tickets, you can find it here.

Another transport cost that you need to think of in advance, is car rental. If you plan on getting one, do your research from home, there are things that you need to know beforehand, such as if the company accepts debit cards, if its best for you to get a full insurance, the type of car that you should get, the amount of money they will block from your card until you get it back, if they are a serious company. Luckily there are websites that offer you aggregations just as those for the planes, Momondo once again come to the rescue. You can compare prices and companies so that you can make the best purchase.

Accommodation -> Pretty much the same as plane tickets and car rentals, the best way to find what is suited for you is by finding what you need and comparing the prices. Once again you can search using Momondo. There are other aspects you need to take into consideration that you can find in the full post I dedicated to this, link here.

If for the transport and accommodation there will be plenty of options and websites that you can use, for the rest of the topics, it’s best to ask yourself how much should be budgeted. For example, food, if you are the type of person that wants to go safe, then you should think about all-inclusive plans. If you like to experiment then you need to do research on the meal costs and multiply that with the number of meals and number of days.

As an example Prague, we didn’t have the breakfast included so we needed 3 meals, in the morning we wanted a light snack and coffee most of the times to go, so around 10 euros per person, lunch would be the main meal, so we budgeted this to 20 euros including drinks per person, for dinner we went for the street food option 10 euros per person, to this we added around 20 euros per person for sweets, additional coffee or beer. The total was: 60 euros per day per person.

Another expense that can be calculated in advance is related to tickets or day trips. You can easily look it up online and see what are the best prices, most of the time I try to book them in advance so that I don’t get there and find out that they are all sold out. Also, it often happens for the prices to be better and you can skip the line, so make sure you check them up. It can happen for those not to be available online and you need to negotiate the prices at the location, so what I do, is look for blogs that have the prices listed so that I can make an idea about how much those can cost.

The example of the topics above would be Spain and Thailand. In Barcelona the best prices you get online, also you don’t have to sit in line to buy the tickets, this is the case in many European countries. In the opposite direction is Thailand, where you will see some huge prices that you have to negotiate on site.

Impulsive shopping is one of the things that I learned to add to the list. It can take the form of souvenirs, sweets, experiences or maybe something specific to that place, I want to have this included so that I don’t find myself crying for something that I wanted badly and I was unable to get.

The last item that should always be included, is the safety net or money for urgent situations. Although I suggest you have this money regularly, if you are traveling you should know that unexpected situations can happen. The best example I have is when the bus in Dusseldorf had more than 1h delay and we had to take a cab to the airport for 200km that cost us 200 euros. The vacation was intended as a low cost one, yet on the last day, we had to pay the price of our own mistake for not making sure we have multiple options for getting to the airport. Other situations might include injuries or medication, so make sure you always have access to extra money.

Vaccines and mosquito sprays! 

Not needed in all types of vacations, but mandatory in the exotic ones, the vaccines are a topic that many decide to research online, but I beg of you DON’T! Ask a doctor what are the types of risks you are exposing yourself and let the internet alone in this specific case. The fact that many decide to brag that they went on with no vaccine and are still alive is no proof since the confession can not be taken from the dead ones. You want to plan for a risk-free vacation!

If the vaccine can be skipped in many countries, the mosquito spray should always be with you when traveling in warm places ( I doubt you need one in Greenland). Even in countries without the risk of malaria, you still don’t want to get bitten by those little bastards, so make sure you grab one before you leave. Also, there are specific sprays for specific areas, the “regular” one will not work on exotic places for example.

Preparing and packing for the trip!

One of my favorite parts is to prepare and pack for the upcoming trip, I usually make a list with the necessities so I don’t forget anything important at home. Another step that I like to take is to plan every outfit so that I can bring only one carry on luggage with me. A full article on the steps I take and how I have fun while getting ready can be found here.

While this might look like a huge list to go through I learned that in time you can optimize this and enjoy every second of it. Have to say that I look forward to every new year when I get the chance to do the research for the upcoming travel experiences, it takes time, I have to admit, and it can be overwhelming at first, but I promise you that it will become part of the experience.

This is an article for Open World Travelers Ambassador Program @momondo. #owtravelers #admomondo

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Traveling: How I Raise Money for My Passion?

As I have previously mentioned I am in love with traveling while having a 9to5 job ( more like an 8:30 to 6:30 job if I include the commute) and raising money for my passion is one of the struggles that I am facing, therefore I would like to give you a few hints on how you can save some $$ while still living a full life.

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Even if it’s tempting to put all your money for traveling, not long after you go through this harsh diet you will realize that you are only spending around 10-15% of your time on vacations and the rest of your time is at home, where life is happening. So don’t fall in the trap of only saving and counting every penny, that will not last long. The first rule of spending would be to find a balance between what is doable for you and what you would like to achieve. For that, you would first need to know how much you spent and on what.

1. Know your limits

I have been keeping a book of my spendings on and off ever since I got a job and I advise you to do the same. Knowledge is power, so you first need to know what are your spending habits, how much do you spend monthly and see what can be improved. Another thing you need to know is how much you save and whether you can increase that amount.

For this, you can use excel sheets, mobile applications, pen, and paper, whatever makes you be consistent with writing down what you brought. An application can help you visualize the areas of spending, like food, clothes, entertainment, etc. There are cards that also give you that report such as Revolut.

2. Spending habits 

Now that you have a list of expenses you can tackle them and see what needs to be adjusted. In my case, the major expenses are food and shopping, therefore I try to be sure that I need specific items before I buy them and that I will be using them. When it comes to food, sometimes I find myself buying more than I will be able to cook and that throwing food is not something that I want to be throwing, therefore I try to only buy what I will cook in the next days and when I am out of ingredients I try to get creative so I don’t have to waste any.

As for shopping, this is still a work in progress area, where I try to only buy what I absolutely need or if I do indulge in something I will try to cut from a different area to keep myself withing the budget ( have to admit that I am not successful in this 100% of the time).

3. Divide and conquer 

Let’s say that you know your limits and you know your habits, on average you spent around 1200$ per month and you want to decrease to 1000$. The easiest way of doing this is by dividing your finances into a weekly budget. If there are 5 weeks in a month you would get 200$ per week and you need to stick to it. For me, it’s easier to work with cash since it’s real if I just swipe the card I don’t get to see the money and if those do not exist I will spend them like crazy. Other people feel the exact opposite of this, if they have the money in the wallet they will just spend it right away, so you need to find your way.

While of the topic of division, one thing that can be done is to add the money left at the end of the week to the savings account. If you do this or not is optional, what is important is not to spend the next week’s money.

4. Roundup your transactions 

One of the options that I love about Revolut card is the fact that you can use Vaults to add some extra savings just by rounding the amount spent per transaction. Here you can also choose to increase the amount by putting the x2, x3 or x4 options.

Since I already said that I am a big fan of cash, I also add in a different type of savings anything under 1$, you will be surprised the amount of money you will get at the end of a month or year. Those types of savings are the easier ones since you don’t get to feel the amount that is leaving your account.

5. The deposit money is locked and cannot be tampered with 

When I get my monthly income I first add the money that I want to save in a deposit or a different account than the one that I am using and I do not use that money unless is absolutely necessary (car breaks down or medical issue pops). I have to admit that is tempting to buy something just because you have the money and you can do it, but you need to fight this urge and walk away. If you use deposits than you already know that you will lose the interest rate, so don’t do that.

Usually, I use this money for either the big vacations that I have planned or for paying in advance for my loans. Read along to see why I do the second.

6. Stay away from borrowed money 

If you have a job, you know how easy you can borrow money from the bank. Whether that comes in the form of a credit card or a loan, that money is calling for you and can access it in a few hours. But nothing comes at a small price and the banks are well known for the rates they will add especially for those types of loans.

Let me give you my example when I bought my home I needed a cash advance and since I didn’t have enough money I took that from the bank as well. For the 10 000 euro that I borrowed, I had to give back 13 000 – 14 000 euro in 5 years (more or less). Therefore I did the math and I understood that I need to pay that money as fast as I can so that I don’t throw away 3000 euros that I could use to travel somewhere fancy.

Getting back to good practices try to stay away from the money the bank is so kindly offering you since there will be a big price to pay. Try to stay within the budget and outsmart them, you do not need stuff you need your freedom.

7. Be realistic when it comes to saving

Making a very strict plan with unrealistic expectations made me spend a lot more than if I kept a “kind” budget. After a month of watching every penny, I went crazy and spent 200$ on shoes or on a bag I didn’t need. I got anxious and felt as if I didn’t have a life outside guarding the money and it didn’t do any good. I learned my lesson and now I try to be as realistic as I can with the amount of money I can save.

If I were to follow the advice from those two books that I reviewed a while back The Richest Man in Babylon and Rich Dad, Poor Dad you should only save 10 to 20% of your income since more will lower your living standard and make your life miserable (as it did mine).

8. Spoil yourself while saving

There are special things that you should do to spoil yourself, small things that can bring a lot of joy to your life. For example, instead of eating at the food court a few times a week, go to a fancy restaurant once a month and enjoy a special dinner and treat yourself with a glass of good wine. Dress well and make an event from it, instead of ordering take out or getting fast food.

Go to the spa, instead of buying lost of cosmetics that will rot in a shelf, go get pampered once a few weeks. Those would seem like ways to spend money and not save them but trust me in the long run, they will make your life better.  Learn how to change your habits and include pampering instead of spending on cheap things.

9. Find cheap travel alternatives

I don’t get to travel every month, but it’s important for me to replace this with something just as good. Either a road trip to some nearby town, a visit to my hometown or just a simple day at the pool, anything to make me get out of the city and do something new. It might not be a bucket-list destination but at least is something.

10. Balance expensive hobbies with low-cost ones

Somedays I am so excited about the upcoming traveling that I forget that I still need to live through the present day, that is when I try to get a reality check. 80% of my time is spent in my current home town and at work, so it’s important to find something that makes me happy right here. Therefore I will tell you a couple of my low-cost hobbies: reading, watching my favorite shows on Netflix,  going for a jog, grabbing my hammock and going on a picnic in the park, cooking and eating on the terrace of my flat, grabbing my laptop or a pen and paper and going out to write on a coffee shop, yoga classes, grabbing my camera and shooting some photos.

Nobody said adulthood would be easy, but it’s up to us to set how hard can it be. We can enter a battle with ourselves and create our own personal hell, or we can find a way to deal with what we have and find smart ways to balance it. There are 8 years since I started to be financially independent and I am constantly trying to find new ways to either increase my earning or decrease my excessive spendings while living my best life. Clearly, each and every one of us has his own definition of the best life, so we need to find the custom solution for our needs. What are your ways of balancing expenses and saving?

Book review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

If you have a Netflix account, and by now I think most of us do, I think you already saw the movie ad, but you will (or will not) be surprised to hear that it’s based on a book written by Jenny Han, first in a series of three. Since I actually liked the first book I decided that it will have an entire post written for it, so let’s get started.

Lara Jean is a sixteen-year-old girl, with Korean origins that lives in Virginia. She has a unique way of coping with love, every time she falls for a boy she writes him a letter expressing all of her feelings, surely she never sends them and keeps them in a box in her closet. There are 5 letters in total, one is for her now sister’s boyfriend Josh, one for an old friend who happens to be the pretty boy from the school Peter, and 3 others that are addressed to a now gay guy, and 2 childhood colleagues.

Before leaving for college in Scotland, her sister Margot dumps Josh, since she says that doesn’t want to be the girl crying for her long-distance relationship, and soon Lara Jean is once again facing her feelings for Josh as he is still present around her and her younger sister Kitty even after’s Margot’s departure.

One day at school Peter Kavinsky approaches Lara Jean and tells her he is honored by her letter but doesn’t feel the same way. At first, she is confused by the remark, but soon after realizes that he is holding the letter that she wrote to him a while back. Furthermore, she finds out that all 5 letters were sent, including the one addressed to now, her sister ex-boyfriend. From the desired to cover up the story that she is still in love with Josh, Lara Jane decides to kiss Peter and also start a fake relationship with him, since he also wants to make his ex-girlfriend jealous.

You can imagine that this will lead to all sorts of trouble and complications, one of them being the fact that Josh confessed that he first liked Lara and not Margot and even ends with them sharing a kiss. Also, the saying fake it, ’till you make it will turn out to be true for Lara and Peter.

There are indeed a couple of areas where things could have been better, like the fact that there is no real girl friendship pictured, just shallow relations between them and a lot of jealousy ( I am excluding the sisterhood bound), also the fact that Lara Jane is somehow going after her sister’s boyfriend (that is a bit odd, but let’s face it not really so out of the ordinary).

I will try not to spoil the ending of the book since I encourage you to read, it’s the perfect beach lecture that you can have. It’s not a great book, it will not stick with you, there is no lesson learned or any takeaway, a simple young adult book that can make you be glued to it for a few hours. Maybe my review more positive than it should be since I read it after the awful After series (review can be found here) but somehow it was a guilty pleasure. Now I am planning to pour a glass of wine, open Netflix and play the movie. Curious about how you found the book? Did you read it/liked it/planning on reading it?

 

Traveling: Unlocking Prague, Czech Republic

There are certain places so iconic that you will see on every bucket list or screensaver carousel there is. One of those places is Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic and one of the most, if not the most, beautiful cities in the world. My trip there was a relatively short one, but if there were a place I would recommend you to do a city break, it will be here.

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We chose the low-cost version of the flight and landed in Vienna from where we took the Flexibus to Prague central station. If you also think about doing this, make sure you book your tickets in advance for the bus or the train. Due to common delays in the Wizz flights, we decided not to, and that cost us more. Also, take into consideration the 4.5 hours that you will spend on the bus.

For the accommodation, we chose to rent using Airbnb a studio near the central station and we walked to the city center every day. It might not be the best solution if you don’t like walking 27 km in a day, but luckily the public transport is very good and organized. The center of the city is pretty small, so the only ride you will need is from your accommodation to it.

Since we only had two full days to spend in the city we decided we wanted to get a glimpse of the city and see the most important attractions. We refrain from visiting museums, the only place we did entry was the Prague Castle, and I have to admit the best part of it it’s free, so if you find yourself here, don’t waste the money. You can even enter the church and see most of it, without the paid ticket.

 

Just like the saying best things in life are free, pretty much the same goes for the Prague attractions,  St. Vitus Cathedral, Charles Bridge, Prague Astronomical Clock, Old Town Square, and Dancing House are all available to you in the city center. While here make sure to grab a beer, or a Radler to fully enjoy the Czech vibe. And since we are on the subject of beverages, they are known for their craft beer that goes very well with their cuisine. If might be problematic for the vegetarians, since it does include a lot of meat, but for those of you who love it, you will be in heaven.

While here, there is a special treat for the sweet lovers, the Trdelnik, a rather interesting dessert that you will see everywhere, with chocolate, fruit gem, ice-cream, fruits or other devilish flavors (like the one I choose) those will make you go to heaven.

 

Prague is also a river city, so do include a cruise on the Vltava, where you can learn more about the city history and get to take a few gorgeous photos. In the summertime, there is no better relaxation than to sip on lemonade while overseeing this amazing place.

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The city panorama can be captured from many places, my personal favorite was the park where the Petrin Tower can be found. We didn’t climb on the tower, because of the line and the number of stairs, but we did admire the view from the park. Another great place is the tower from Charles Bridge where you can see the 360 degrees view, the best time to go is either in the morning or at twilight.

With a city this beautiful and popular you must pay attention to the tourist traps, there are a few and while you can never protect yourself from all, it’s good to do your homework before arriving. The most popular trap is the one that has to do with the money conversion, in the Czech Republic they use the koruna, and many places accept only cash payment, therefore you will need to exchange some money. If you plan on using the ATM machines make sure you read if they have any commission and verify the conversion rate, the Euronet ATM should be avoided at all times, those are known for offering the worts rates. I used my Revolut card to withdraw from a random ATM and the rate was decent. A better way to avoid this is by bringing cash and converting it. If you chose to do so, be very careful at the conversion rates and only accept the conversion if it’s the correct one. A trick that they make is they display the price they use to sell euro (or dollars) and not the one they will offer for buying the currency.

While on the ugly side of the touristic city, pay attention to the menu prices, if those are not displayed either ask or go to a different place. It happened for us to pay more than double for a bear just because they said they don’t have a menu ( we stayed only because the rain started). A friend of ours paid 4 times the price from the menu after the waiter asked if they would also like different types of salads with their food.

And lastly, make sure you don’t fall in the optional tips that they kindly calculated for you at around 20-25%. In Europe, unlike the US, the tips are NOT mandatory, if you liked the service you can leave one, usually is around 10%. The staff is fully paid (again unlike in the US where they are paid less because of the tips) so there is no obligation from your end to leave anything. Don’t get me wrong, I do tip, usually 10-15% but if the staff is rude or tries to trick me in any way that tip will vanish and I highly recommend you to do the same.

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Clearly, the bad parts and the tourist traps are everywhere these days, so if it does happen to you, try to let it be and continue to enjoy your time in Prague. I refuse to give the satisfaction that they ruined my vacation to some bad people, karma will take care of them for sure.

 

Prague was one of the destinations that weren’t really on my list for this year but somehow manage to get on it after I got a couple of recommendations from my friends and I am so happy that I squeezed it in. Made in a budget-friendly manner we spent around 600 euros for the plane tickets, accommodation, food and attractions, in 3 days. To us, this place will always be one to be remembered with a huge smile on our faces.

 

 

 

 

 

Last Month’s Favorites: July 2019

If I am writing this, it means that we have entered the last month of summer, while the nostalgia that my favorite period of the year ends, July was indeed good to me and there are a couple of memorable items that should go on the list.

 

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Prague city break

Probably the most beautiful European capital, it’s definitely a place I will never forget. From food to sightseeing, the city took our breath away and made us fall in love with it. A full review will follow, but in the meantime, I will do some teasing with the photos.

Electric Castle festival

If it’s July in Cluj, it means that it’s the time of the festivals! Although I don’t plan on going to the other big festival this year (Untold), I did had an amazing time at Electric Castle. Loved it so much that I already brought the tickets for the following year without even knowing the date or the lineup. Apart from the festival atmosphere, the show made by 30 Seconds to Mars really stole my heart, same goes for Florence and the Machines. Cannot wait to see who will be on the lineup for 2020!

I love big books and I cannot lie!

From Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series, to My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan and Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, June was definitely filled with amazing books.

Ever since I saw the movie appear on Netflix I keep on postpone seeing it until I am done with reading at least the first book written by Jenny Han, and I have to admit it was worth the wait. Loved the book series, I think the first one is the best, the movie is also a pretty decent one given the fact that it’s a teenage movie. After going through the 3 books, I needed something more serious and read Breakfast at Tiffany’s on the plane to Prague. Even if for this one, I’ve seen the movie years ago, I have to admit the movie and the book are one on one with the plot, probably one of the few.

The last book for this month, My Oxford Year, got me mixed feelings. I am not sure if I loved it, or just thought that it was sad. Bottom line the story is one that will make you cry and emphasize with the main character, read it with an open mind and don’t be quick to judge, halfway through it will change dramatically.

Shopping time

Proud to say that I didn’t buy a single purse this month, come to think of it, I didn’t do much shopping until the last weekend of the month when I finally got the chance to get to the mall. The items that caught my attention were from organic cotton 3 white t-shirts and two pairs of short jeans that I plan on wearing both to work and outside it.

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Seeing this category getting smaller was one of the items from my resolution so I am happy that is started to pay off (finally). Even though this was just one in many, I have to admit that we are now way passed the middle of the year and it is time to have a pick at the list that we each made at the beginning of the year and see where we stand with them, since we don’t want December to take us by surprise. Happy summertime!

When I First Realized That I Am Hopelessly in Love with Traveling

It’s said that we are born travelers, but we have to wait until the demon is awakened by a random event to understand it. I was born in a family where my mom was in love with seeing the world, with conquering new lands and with understanding other cultures, it’s from her that I learned how to respect the places  I visit and their customs. As for the exact moment when I realized that I will never be able to save money for anything other than plane tickets and b&b hotels, well, let me tell you how it went!

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In 2009 I got into the Faculty of Computer Science and I was devasted about the fact that my parents pushed into this career path rather than letting me study journalism. I was sad and I cried almost every night in the first months spent in my dorm room. Felt out of place and had zero interest in learning programming, felt alone and with no friends in a city that I hated, so I needed something to focus on. It was then I learned about the Work and Travel program that allowed students to go to the States for 4 months during summer. I had to wait until the second year since it often happened for the juniors not to get the visa and I had to pass all my exams to maximize my chances. For two years I worked a boring data entry job to gather some of the money for the program,(I borrowed the remaining from my mom) while giving my best to pass and understand all the rocket science subjects from college.

In 2011 I was finally in the plane (for the first time) to cross the ocean to the destination I always dream of seeing: America. Landed in Boston with big eyes and for the next 3 months, I have worked my a*s off on shitty jobs. The working part of the program was awful since the agency that brought as overbooked the job offerings (they didn’t expect us all to pass the visa interview) and we ended up not having enough hours to support our living and since we arrived late (also due to their paperwork not being ready on time) most of the jobs were gone in the small place of Weirs Beach Laconia, New Hampshire.

Let’s just say that it was a very bad summer, filled with drama and money issues, that made me promised myself that I would never be in this position ever again, but then something out of the ordinary happened, I found myself in the best place in the world:  New York. It was on the streets of the never-sleeping city that I fall in love, both with the crazy place and with a friend of a friend. The 5 days spent there really put my life in a different perspective and made me understand that I looked for happiness in the wrong place all along. It was a combination of magic and love that it’s hard to explain.

From the fast-food that we brought from the streets to the small cheap apartment in New Harlem that we rented, to the Central Park vibe, I learned that I am not made to stay in one place, I will never be happy with just owning a car or a house and I am not cut for the white fence life. Finally understood what my mom kept on saying about wanting to see more, feel more and make traveling a priority. As I walked hand in hand on the Brooklyn Bridge in the cold days of October, my life started to make sense.

 

Of course, there will be times when I feel that my hobby is taking so much energy, there will be tourist traps that I would fall in, the places are not as I have expected or the weather will not be on my side, yet even in times like this, the memories are my treasure. It’s true that nothing can compare to my NYC moment (and I admit I am afraid to go back and ruin that special memory) but there are other places when I felt so happy that I had tears in my eyes ( Paris, Rome, Zakynthos, PhiPhi Island, Prague, etc).

Many will not understand, will think it’s just a phase and I will grow out of it, but the ones suffering from the same addiction will know that this is more than just a hobby is more of a lifestyle, a chosen life path, the taste of the forbidden apple. Yes, it will be hard working a full-time job and sometimes a part one as well, just to keep it going, but in the end, it’s all worth it.

Whenever I feel like I have to get away my day to day routine I just go on a plane aggregator website as Momondo and I look for my escape ticket, often I search for the route to the Big Apple just to fantasize how it could be, maybe someday I will have the courage to relive it, but until then the bucket list with destinations is set and ready.

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It’s been 8 years since the New York moment, yet it was the awakening that I always desired, the moment I finally knew what I want in life, the time where everything fell into the place it has to be and I knew that I am no longer lost. Probably the only time in my life when I was certain of something, my moment is frozen in time where a girl with big blue eyes and blond hair looked up the tall buildings and realized what she has to do in life to be happy.

How about you, when was the moment you realized you were a traveler at heart?

This is an article for Open World Travelers Ambassador Program @momondo. #owtravelers #admomondo

 

Before I Fall – What Would You Do On Your Last Day?

Now on Netflix, the movie Before I Fall features Sam a mean girl that is about to live the last day of her life over and over again until she makes a difference. The plot might not be the most original one, but it does bring up a question in all of us, what would we do knowing that today is our last day, to make a difference?

I’ve always wanted to do more, to make myself present and make a difference, yet sometimes I try to reach to high and fail to see the small things that can be impacted. Can I make a difference in a normal yet boring day? Can I really change someone’s destiny? Or can I maybe change my own in just 24 hours? My answer is yes, the how can this be possible can only be found out by each and every one of us.

Designed to look for the great moments, for the amazing experiences we fail to acknowledge the ones that really matter, and yes, those are the regular ones, the routine, the time we think we lose by doing nothing spectacular. We live for the future, worried about the past and completely ignoring the reality that is the present. Forever waiting to receive the Oscar, forgetting that getting and holding it is nothing without the regular and boring day preceding the celebration, the one where you simply get out of bed and got to work. The simple moment when you buy a cup of coffee, the cup is to full and you sip from it and taste the coffee. The moment you put on your seat-belt and turn on the music, the crossroad where you let the one stuck on the side road to pass in front of you, because you have nowhere to rush and that person thanks you.

It’s often said that we have to lose something to truly appreciated, the ones that don’t understand that meaning are the luckiest people on Earth, it means that they’ve never lost someone they love. It is to the regular and ordinary moments that you turn to, it’s to the desire to be yesterday’s one more and for you to relive a lost normality. It’s the moment when you know nothing will ever be the same again that hurts the most, and here I am not talking about graduating high-school or collage and just moving forward, although those might hurt as well.

If I were to make an exercise and think about today and what would I do different if it would truly be my last day, well it would be simple, I would have smiled more, I would have petted my animals a little bit more, got up a little bit earlier to drink my coffee with my loved one, I would have picked up my phone to call my grandpa, I would have had a little bit more patience with a mum and her kid when crossing the road that costed me my car’s paint since I hit the curve. I would have been nicer to everyone around me, look at their faces while walking or daydreaming a little bit more before opening the laptop, I would have not spent any time on Facebook and I would have not been judging anyone for their mistakes.

Some would say that if today would be your last day they would quite the job and get on a plane, well guess what, I wouldn’t, I think the difference would be small if I were to spend my last day alone, or just trying to get somewhere it’s impossible to get in 24 hours, running a lost marathon. I would do what I do in a regular, boring day, just a little bit more slowly and with more attention to details, so that I can remember it.

Yet if you are reading this, just as I am writing it, means this isn’t your last day, you don’t have to worry about spending your last 24 hours and even if you didn’t get the chance to do everything perfectly you have another shot tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and so on. We don’t have to change anything about the day, we just have to live it. How we will do it, is completely up to us, the difference stands in our hands, whether we decide to act upon it or not. But one thing must be kept in mind, when that last day will come, and none of us will escape it, we will not have that opportunity to relive it.

P.S. Watch that movie if you haven’t already, is exactly what the present you needs, food for the sole. Even the grumpy ones will love it!