Travel Tips

How Neuschwanstein Castle Became the Proof That Dreams are Only Dreams Until You Make It Real

How Neuschwanstein Castle Became the Proof That Dreams are Only Dreams Until You Make It Real

I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now?
— John Lennon

Once upon a time, I dreamt of fairy tales coming to life not just on big screens, but in the form of an unbelievably gorgeous Neo-gothic romantic castle, perched on a rugged cliff ridge, secluded in the Bavarian mountains – the world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle, built by King Ludwig II (1845 – 1886), popularly known as the “Mad King” or “Swan King” of the 19th century. To be completely honest, it was the Disney’s live-action remake of the Beauty and the Beast and the sudden surge of comments on my Facebook cover photo featuring Neuschwanstein, which inspired Disney’s storybook castles that ultimately prompted me to write this piece – at long last.

I thought, why not? It’s the perfect time to take you on a tour in and around the castle despite the lack of interior visuals due to the fact that you’d be sent out if you tried clicking away as soon as you step inside the halls. When a German gives a stern warning, you better believe it. So at least I’ll do my best to put into words what makes this experience absolutely dreamy, especially for all you royalty wannabes out there.

I constantly come across photos of this Neuschwanstein castle on so many travel magazines, fliers, websites and the likes, but travelling to one of the most-visited castles on earth was not on my priorities list until I moved to Germany, and that’s the truth. But that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t always curious to see if there was more to this emblematic castle on a hill, apart from the likelihood of being turned into a fairytale-crazed adult. That was why I just had to go.

Neuschwanstein Castle during autumn

It was in expectedly bleak and cold November when I, together with my husband, planned to do a roadtrip to some neighboring countries and to the south of Germany, specifically Schwangau region, the home of King Ludwig II’s imposing 65-meter-high masterpiece. Admittedly, it’s not the best time to go, but we couldn’t find a better occasion to fit this itinerary into our schedule. We just hoped and prayed the heavens would smile on us and give us an amazing weather.

Oh, we were so blessed.

The next morning, the sun was brimming brightly and the cobblestone pavement appeared dry unlike the day before as we made our way to buy our tickets at the ticket center in Hohenschwangau, where our journey on foot would start. We went during the off-peak season, so we were quite confident we’d be able to get tickets on the day of our visit IF we turned up early, and we did. During busier months though (summer season for example), it’s highly advisable to purchase admission tickets way in advance to avoid massive disappointment and regret. Days before we arrived, we debated for a while whether or not to take the guided tour, which is the only way you can be allowed to peek inside. It was simply because we were unsure if it was going to be worth it or it was just going to be another overrated castle. Now we know the answer.

IT WAS DEFINITELY WORTH IT!

Let me tell you why.

After a 25-minute hike, making a few stops to take photos, I found myself gapping at the view of this utterly majestic architecture right before my eyes. White limestone façade, prickly turrets, Gothic gargoyles. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve been to a number of palaces and castles across the globe, mind you. When it was our turn to experience the magic hidden within its walls, I tried hard to contain my excitement.

We began to walk up the stairs, that was nothing special, but it was like a secret entry point to the past. Then our guide led us to the end of the hallway to be greeted by King Ludwig II’s bronze head bust, right before we quietly slipped into the world of this imaginative genius.

Neuschwanstein Castle - Throne

Photo credit: Neuschwanstein Official Website

The castle’s interior is whimsical; the artfully adorned walls roll out murals depicting biblical narratives, German legends and mythology mainly based upon operas created by Richard Wagner, the king’s beloved composer. In a sense, Neuschwanstein Castle plays as a tribute to Wagner’s theatrical stories and is the result of Ludwig’s obsession to breathe life to all of his works.

King Ludwig II's Bedroom

Photo credit: World Visits – King’s Bedroom

Gold, oak wood, silk, decadent décor – Ludwig’s got an expensive taste. From fully-furnished servants’ quarters, to the enchanting grand ballroom that was never used for any function, to the bejeweled two-story throne room with a massive golden chandelier, to the Byzantine church inspired bedroom where he spent most of his time in isolation – beyond a doubt, this entire place embodies his soul. For what it’s worth, he definitely knew how to impress.

Neuschwanstein Inside Cave and Waterfalls

Photo Credit: Curmudgeon Abroad | The very first “man cave” 😉

As soon as you enter “the cave” which leads to his elaborately decorated bedroom, you will certainly begin imagining how in the world this part of the castle was built with the limited resources and knowledge of technology during that period. A dripstone cave with waterfalls illuminated by color changing mood lights? Mind blown. Elaborate, intricate, modern – no wonder you’d be called mad for these wild ideas. But it’s my kind of crazy. Here are more features: centralized heating, hot and cold running water, toilets with automatic flush, intercoms, electric bell system, and get this, a food elevator! A true definition of luxury. The bed may seem comparably small to a king size, but it’s intricately and painstakingly hand-carved for 7 long years, adorned with Bavarian blue embroidered linen and draperies. Also don’t forget to look up and marvel at the ceiling of the canopy bed dotted with tiny lights, resembling stars and constellations.

Neuschwanstein Conservatory

Photo credit: Official Neuschwanstein Website

However, my favorite spot was the conservatory with pebble flooring, offering panoramic views of Alpsee and alpine foothills; intertwined twigs covering the interior, a 2-tier mini fountain standing in between two chairs made out of rustic tree branches. How classy is that? When I caught a glimpse of the candles and the wooden antique table clock, it instantly reminded me of Lumiere and Cogsworth! And that was when my so-called “Belle moment” kicked in. I could totally picture myself having teatime with someone right there and just taking in all that beauty around me.

For a good 30 minutes of my life, I was entranced by the grandiosity of Neuschwanstein Castle. It is one of those places you have to see for yourself to believe it’s real.

Quick facts:

  • Neuschwanstein means “new swan stone” or “new swan jewel”. The swan was the heraldic animal of the counts of Schwangau and became the coats of arms of the ruling Bavarian family which also symbolizes purity.
  • Neuschwanstein Castle receives 6,000 visitors a day during peak season (Spring/Summer) and around 1.5 million per year
  • Located 2-hours away from Munich (you can take a tour or DIY)
  • Only 15 were completed out of planned 360 rooms at the time of Ludwig’s untimely and mysterious death, 17 years later from the start of its construction in 1869. The original plan included an ornate chapel, a huge balcony, bathhouses, additional bastions and turrets.
  • Even though not a single cent from the state funds was used to build the castle, Ludwig was declared insane because of the amount of time and money he was willing to pour out to realize his extravagant dream for it. He pulled in all his resources to realize his projects, that’s a fact.
  • Ludwig II spent his childhood days in a nearby beautiful yellow castle his called Hohenschwangau which you can combine with the Neuschwanstein tour on the  same day for 25 EUR.

Quick Tips:

  • Book your tickets online in advance even during low-peak season if you really want to take the guided tour (and I highly recommend you should! It’s worth a visit!)
  • Current prices for the tour is 13 EUR for adults (more info here: http://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/tourist/admiss.htm#ticketcenter
  • Guided tours start punctually. If you miss your schedule, you can NOT ask to be included in the next scheduled tour.
  • Their website states allow 45 minutes to reach the castle from the ticket center, even though you can do it in 20 minutes if you’re quite fit and don’t need to stop for photos along the way. They just do not want you to be late for your schedule.
  • If you don’t want to walk uphill and do an early morning cardio, you can take the horse-drawn carriage ride in your princess gown! No really, I think it can be a real authentic experience. It’s only 5 EUR per head each way. Alternatively, you can take the shuttle bus for 2.90 EUR return – but you’d still need to walk a few hundred meters to the castle’s entrance. No biggie, it’s close!
  • Wear comfortable clothing/shoes if you plan to hike/walk
  • You may bring water and snacks, but obviously, you can only eat it outside. Keep your trash.
  • Bring your pro camera, but do not dare taking photos inside. It is strictly prohibited. Hence, I have gathered all these snaps of its interiors from the official website and visitors who defied the rules and just got lucky.
  • The best spot to take photos of the Neuschwanstein is from Marienbrücke (Queen Mary’s Bridge). It’s a short walk from the castle, close to the bus stop.
  • Always check the weather forecast before you go. Usually during winter months, they would close Marienbrücke for visitors’ safety. Also, if the skies aren’t clear, you will hardly see the castle anyway.
  • The castle entrance has a storage facility but only for small bags/items. Leave all your bulky belongings in your car or hotel.

Where to stay:

Disclaimer: May contain affiliate links

We booked a place in Füssen, only a 5-minute drive from the ticket center, where a medley of charming boutique hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants can be found in a central area. A fancy stay at a hotel also won’t cost you an arm and leg, so it was definitely a good decision to stay there. The authentic Asian restaurant was a bonus, too! With more than half of the tourists flocking every year coming from Asia, they’ve figured they must have sushis and Chinese fried rice on offer.



Booking.com

Check out other accommodation options near Neuschwanstein castle.

How to get to there:

Here’s a comprehensive travel information if you are coming from Füssen or Munich

If you prefer to take a day tour from Munich, Viator offers a small group tour you can join in!

THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO VISITING NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE

Posted by Sarah in Destinations, Travel Stories, Travel Tips, 24 comments
How to Survive Long Airport Layovers

How to Survive Long Airport Layovers

This post may contain affiliate links

It must be your day! You just scored the cheapest return flight after weeks of holding off on buying that ticket even as prices were already shooting through the roof – sometimes, you just get lucky! Everything seems to look good, but for one thing: the flight connection sucks. But no worries, you only have, wait, what? More than 8 hours of layover? You probably didn’t miss that when you were on the checkout page, but you weren’t really thinking about it then…until now.  Come on, cheer up! If it had saved you enough to afford one or two more days going on food tours in New York, a long layover is a worthy sacrifice for that price.

Let me tell you this: as long as you have your fully-charged gadgets, books or ebook reader, a comfy neck pillow, filling snacks, or maybe just your willpower – you will survive!

How to survive long airport layovers

It can be quite distressing, especially if it will be your first time to get stuck at an airport THAT long. You know, I thought 3 hours was a long time until I had to spend 16 hours at one of the worst airports in the world with hardly ANYTHING to do. That felt like growing a year older every minute – it was horrible. I didn’t know what to expect and I was not armed with enough energy to chat up with fellow travelers or stockpile of stuff to keep me entertained. But that was also how I became a pro at Snakes on my old Nokia phone – oh, the sweet old days! Hey, now it’s different! So you’re still lucky lasses and lads! Relax. Just keep in mind that to win any battles in life, you need to – first and foremost – be prepared! Do not EVER underestimate the power of Murphy’s law.

Dig up everything you can find about the airport

Taiwan airport

Sure, you will have enough time to explore once you’re there, but it’s always best to do your research before arriving and know where to find what you will need – sleeping pods, lounges, food courts, left baggage facilities, entertainment areas if any! This will allow you to plan your “stay” well and give you enough information to decide what to do with your time there.

Sleeping in Airports is a site with information on almost every airport in the world and I have been using this site for as long as I can remember; it’s the most comprehensive guide to finding your way in these airports. Travellers keep the information on the site up to date by emailing the admins, like I did a few times. Don’t let its super simple web aesthetics which still give the 90s vibes turn you away!

Get your personal entertainment stash ready

Before leaving your house, make sure that all the gadgets you are taking with you are fully charged. There may be power plugs in the airport, but you never know if someone’s already hogging that corner. So if you go crazy without a smartphone, tablet or ebook reader to keep you entertained, they better be juiced up! Then load it up with all your favorite e-books, movies, playlists or whatnot! It’s useless without it; unless you just intend to take selfies or doodle on it to pass the entire time! When the wifi connection is way too slow to do anything online; these will keep you sane. Oh, and don’t forget your power banks, too! Anker power banks are handy, fast-charging, and high capacity – which means that it can fully charge your iPad mini twice and phones at least 5 times.

If you still travel with books, magazines and with a travel journal, your options just got wider!

Say no to starvation

airline food snack

Pack those peanuts they give you on the flight! You might need them 🙂

I hardly travel without snacks in my bag – not after those times I went starving because I couldn’t buy acceptable food ANYWHERE. You’ll have better sleep and be in a better mood when you don’t “go to bed” hungry! Yes, it happens; when shops decide to close before you can even get yourself something to eat or when they just don’t sell anything apart from a three-day-old dehydrated bread lying inside the glass display counter at the only airport cafeteria. Just carry packs of healthy satisfying snacks to get you through – cookies, bread, peanuts, etc. and a bottle of water you can refill at drinking fountains, which most airports have.

Dress for the occasion

Put on your comfiest attire because you will never know where you’re going to end up on – the lounge chair or cold concrete slab. No, please don’t dress like a hobo unless you want to be picked up by the security and locked up somewhere (Hmm, maybe their custody suites offer better amenities? You wish!). Airports are more often than not, air-conditioned; so don’t forget your hoodie or pullover and a few extra scarves – just in case it gets colder than you expect and that’s mostly the case when you’re in one of those Asian airports. We can’t help it! We love minus degrees – in malls, buses and every space that is enclosed from the heat outside! You’ve been warned!

Bring your sleeping kit

Some airlines are sweethearts to provide you these travel/toiletries kits, which include an eye mask, earplugs, socks, toothbrush, etc. Keep it and use it in times like this! However, don’t rely to be extended with such lovely gestures on every flight, so always remember to squeeze your own kit into your carry on. If you want to get a good night’s sleep especially in a jam-packed and busy airport, you’ll definitely need to be armed with these and a neck pillow, of course! Traveling with someone? His/her shoulder or lap will do!

Pick a secure and strategic spot

Sleeping in airports

Assuming you already know the sleep/rest areas in the airport, try to pick a spot close to an electric socket or where the WIFI signal is the strongest – sometimes you really have to choose! If you get there late, then these spots might already be taken. The most important thing is to find enough space for your exhausted self to plonk on for the night. While there is hardly any case of travellers being assaulted inside the airport, people have lost gadgets and bags as they sleep. Try to stay in well-lighted areas and relatively close to the concierge or airport security.

Guard your belongings

I either lay my head on my travel backpack or, if I am sitting upright, place my bags on my lap/beside me and loop the straps around my arms before I hug it tightly like my life depend on it. I once startlingly woke up to a sleepwalking child tugging at one of my bags and trying to snatch it away from me – and that’s the worst that happened so far. Luckily. When you travel with someone, it’s easy to take turns watching each other’s stuff, but when you travel alone, it’s best to travel light and just have one carry-on you can easily handle! Imagine if you have a lot of stuff with you and you have to go to the toilets. You have to squeeze everything inside that tiny cubicle with you and, ugh, kind of gross if it has to touch the toilet floor.

Make use of left luggage services

But then again, if you really have to carry all that stuff because some of the friends and family you’re visiting asked you to bring some things for them and your luggage is not checked through, locate the left luggage or luggage storage service counters and leave it there without worries. These are short-term and secure; you just have to pay a few bucks to keep it there for as long as necessary. Check their opening and closing times though, to be sure that you can get your luggage out when you can finally check it in. You don’t want to see all your unclaimed belongings at some lost luggage warehouse sale.

Be considerate to other (sleeping) travellers

Sleeping in airports

Ever been stuck beside someone who loudly talks on the phone the entire time or a rowdy group of travellers who just can’t keep it down as you try to sleep at past two in the morning? Clearly, they are not being considerate. Do not be one of them. If you see people around you trying to give their tired selves a break, especially if it’s a lounge/rest area, please shut up. Go somewhere else should you need to exhaust your talktime.

Check for airline lounges and other facilities

Okay, you don’t really have to sleep rough in the airports if you can afford it. Yes, really, you have a choice! If you have some cash to spare for a nice lounge with sleeping pods or even for a night’s stay at a nearby hotel, why not? Pay lounges open their facilities even to non-airline passengers. Have a breakfast buffet, massage, shower and a cushy seat! If you need a bed, the airport hotel might be more to your liking. While some are easily accessible from the main halls of the airport terminals, you may need to take a shuttle to get to others. There’s no better backup plan for anyone who prioritizes their comfort and doesn’t mind shelling out a small portion of their travel fund.

Korean parade airport

At Incheon airport, one of their airport attractions is a traditional Korean parade that promotes their culture.

Sign up for a free layover tour

Another option is to see if they have free layover tours. Some airlines even offer to sponsor your visas – isn’t that lovely? A number of the airports which offer layover city tours are Singapore, Taiwan, Seoul Korea and even Doha – ask the concierge and they should know what you can do with your time there. It will be great to get out of the airport and explore a new city – or even if you’ve already been there countless times! It’s something you should consider and take advantage of if their tour schedule matches yours rather than wasting away at the airport! If you’re short on time or you just missed the last tour, some airports have amazing airport attractions such as museums, lush gardens, and even parades! You can learn so much about the place without even leaving.

Do you have any experience sleeping in airports? How was it? What are the worst and best airports for layovers? Before you go, learn how to master the art of packing light with these tips.

Posted by Sarah in Travel Tips, 22 comments
The Dos and Don’ts for First Time (Solo) Travelers

The Dos and Don’ts for First Time (Solo) Travelers

Counting down the days to your first ever international travel, but somehow you still feel unsure and clueless of what to expect? That mixture of nervous excitement and fear is way too familiar to me and I’d say that’s perfectly normal, but preparedness and confidence will definitely make you feel less scared! When it was my turn, I didn’t do everything right and that’s how I came up with these particular dos and don’ts for first time travelers, so you won’t make the same mistakes I did!

First Time Traveler's Rulebook - Things to do and NOT to do when you travel!

Dos and don'ts of traveling for the first time

DOs

Start your research early on

reading map

As you plan your route, it pays to read about the places you will be visiting. Beyond the best mode of transportation to travel around with and hottest tourist spots to check out, you should learn a bit of its history, people and culture. To truly understand and embrace a different culture than yours is an integral part of traveling, as it will enrich new experiences and encounters with individuals outside of your comfort zone. Leave your assumptions at home and be ready for exciting discoveries along the way!

Get a travel insurance

I must admit, the first few times I travelled, I never thought I’d ever need it until I felt so ill in Bangkok due to food poisoning and lost my luggage on my first Eurotrip (eventually found it after a few hours & throwing a fit). So I cannot stress the importance of getting insured enough especially when you plan on doing extreme sports or activities considered “hazardous” such as winter sports, skydiving and more. Most travel insurance companies don’t cover such activities, so always check with them! Don’t be too poised as if nothing’s ever going to happen to you because life can be a bitch and you know it.

Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend/family member

That urge to just disappear and Alex Supertramp it is very real and can be quite strong, I know. I’ve felt that, too. But no matter how hard it is to fight it, do not leave home without divulging some details of your travel with someone – specifically, where you are headed. If you are more of the spontaneous kind who likes scooting off without having laid out plans, then simply give this someone an update of your current location as you go along. Don’t make the people who care about you worry! At least they should know where on earth to find you if you suddenly went awfully quiet. Touch wood.

Call your bank

iphone-624709_640

Let your bank or credit card company know that you are travelling to make sure they won’t lock you out of your account when you try drawing out money from overseas. Some banks automatically alert the depositor of an unusual activity with your account and deny access for your security in the case of stolen cards. To spare yourself of unnecessary troubles, simply remember to give them a call and inform them that you’ll be traveling out of the country for a period of time.

Make sure you have a return/onward flight ticket

A number of countries require you to show a proof of onward travel as an assurance that you will not be illegally overstaying beyond the validity of your stay. Although the only time the immigration officer asked for an onward flight was when I travelled to the US for the first time, it may be stricter now since I’ve heard of some travelers being asked to produce a confirmed return/onward flight before they even leave their country of origin. There are some tricks you can try if you just bought a one-way ticket, like going to a travel agency to have a dummy ticket printed out, purchasing a cheap ticket to somewhere or paying a little extra on a return flight booking to make it flexible if you needed to change your onward travel destination. No matter which way you choose to get around it, just have something to show them. But since you’re new to all this, it’s better to have a legit ticket just in case they (especially the airlines) call your bluff and decide to enter that fake booking reference number you gave them into their system.

Book accommodation for your first night



Booking.com

I know plans can change, but hardly your first destination, right? So reserve a bed at one of the reputable, highly-rated hostels or guesthouses at least for your arrival date. When traveling through a specific region, travelers normally choose stops that make sense and tend to take advice from other travelers who have taken the same or similar route and these hostels are where they’re at besides online forums! Not only will it ensure you’d have a place to stay on your first night, but it will also put you in the right place that houses travelers who can share their experiences with you to will help you get ideas for your trip planning based on your interests. Take the opportunity to get your sheepishness out of the way and start mingling – especially if you’re a solo traveler!

Travel light

backpacks galore

So that you won’t have that look on your face!

Learn how to pack a perfect carry on by bringing only the absolute travel essentials and not your whole wardrobe! Packing light is really about only taking what you can manage to carry than about saving a few bucks for excess or check-in baggage. To be agile and not feel too restricted by the stuff I carry behind my back have always been one of my top priorities ever since I started traveling. Don’t bother bringing all your gadgets; you should be socializing with other travelers. Scrap the bulky toiletries; you can just get those at local supermarkets.

Trust your instincts

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Remember that and trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, move away. Classic travel scams are everywhere and if you are unable to recognize them, you might get victimized. Evil walks on earth, so always be aware of your surroundings. You may not know this, but con artists carefully choose their targets by observing people closely and generally picking the ones who look oblivious or all confused. Avoid dark narrow streets especially at night, read warning signs, and be careful of venturing alone.

Eat where the locals eat

Engrish menu

Looks very local to me! Perfect!

The best way to discover authentic local food is to follow the stream of locals to where they head out to sit down for their meals. You will usually find eateries where you can watch how your food is being prepared at a fraction of the cost you would normally pay in restaurants catering to tourists – plus, you get to interact with the locals and get some food recommendations! Don’t drink the water though, if it was advised that it’s generally not safe!

Pack some snacks

As mentioned, if you get stuck somewhere with hardly any store open in sight and you’re about to die of hunger, a snack pack will save you. Once you’ve experienced being so famished while being on the road, you’ll always have something in your bag plus a bottle of water! You should also grab healthy food options whenever possible so you won’t be munching away junk all the time throughout your travels and wondering why you’ve gained so much weight when you get back home.

DON’Ts

Buy too much stuff

souvenir shopping

Do you love gifting people with souvenirs from your travels? No matter how tempting it is to fill up every free slot in your bag, be mindful of the weight and the money you spend on it! Always go for light and small items characteristic of the place that is within your budget. If you’re not tracking your spending, this can easily become a major expense. If you’re traveling to shop and willing to shell out for additional luggage, raid the shops by all means!

Get hammered around strangers

Lao lao whiskey bottles

Yup, I’ve tried them all – DON’T!

Sure, drink and be merry! Finally taking the plunge to see more of the world calls for a celebration of some sort! Even if you’re not traveling alone, you will have new-found friends who will talk you into joining pub crawls or downing shots of snake & scorpion whiskey at a sidewalk bar kiosk; that after a couple of drinks, it will actually seem like a good idea. I know it can be hard to say no and walk away after that “one last drink”, but the moment you notice yourself telling everyone you’re not drunk yet – GO HOME before it’s too late. I’ve had crazy times in the past and been all about that more than once in my life, but I never ever drink way beyond my limit if I was not with someone I trust. When alone as a female traveler, it’s always best to order beer as the barkeep usually pops it open in front of you or watch how your cocktails are being made making sure no drink spiking is happening. So don’t go crazy, prioritize your safety! I’ve got horror stories to tell some other time.

Forget to carry the hostel’s business card

Grab a couple of business cards from your hotel/hostel’s reception & always have it in your pocket. This has saved me a lot of times more than I’d like to admit especially when a language barrier exists. You will curse your phone’s battery for dying on you just before you get to search the address or be too drunk to properly pronounce your tongue-twister hotel name. Anyway, my point is it’s a lot easier to just give the taxi/bus/tuktuk driver a card with an address indicated on it than trying to explain where you need to be dropped off.

Rush to see everything

I get it, you want to pack in as many places to see as possible into one trip because you don’t have much time and might never get another chance to set foot on these must-see sights. It was the same for me. Although I never seem to have enough time, I try to just pick out a realistic number of sights I can visit within a day without rushing through it all. Some important factors to consider are travel and queuing times for different points of interests. You might be surprised to know that allotting an entire day may only allow you to take a glimpse. It’s an exaggeration, of course. Or maybe not.

Underestimate travel costs

money in pocket

The next time you know, it’s no longer there!

Starting with the big-ticket components of travel such as flights, land transportation, and accommodation bookings, there are a few more that follows that list that can easily add up! If you love gourmet feasts, luxuriate in world-class resorts, and get the rush out of extreme sports – even just on occasion – looking into the costs of these as you do your research should give you an idea of how much cash you’d really need. Your budget also needs to have a buffer for unforeseen expenses like in the event you miss your flight/train or you need to spend a night in a random town in the middle of nowhere because your bus broke down and nobody knows if it’s still repairable.

Skip backing up your documents

Scan all your important documents (passport/s, travel insurance coverage, booking confirmations, etc), send it to personal email address and/or store it online so you can easily access it if you happen to lose anything.

Above all, DO open yourself up to the world and have the grandest time AND DON’T do anything I wouldn’t do! 😉

Posted by Sarah in Travel Tips, 23 comments
7 Tested Ways to Stay Productive While Traveling

7 Tested Ways to Stay Productive While Traveling

I bet you will agree with me that even in the office or at home, there are times when it can be tough to keep your focus and stay productive. Let me tell you that it is a lot tougher if you work from anywhere and everywhere or if you just need to do some work while on a vacation.

7 Ways to Stay Productive While Traveling Best Productivity Tips While On the Road

7 Tried and Tested Ways to Be ProductiveI’ve experienced doing both, that’s why I will be sharing some ways on how I stay productive on road trips and never miss a deadline. It takes some getting used to, but you’ll master time management and self-discipline in no time with enough motivation.

  1. Download productivity tools – Do you use tools to make your job a little easier and add hours to your workdays? No? Oh, you’re missing out on opportunities to unburden yourself. I personally use a few – Hootsuite for managing social media accounts in one platform; IFTTT for integrating various apps I use regularly and automates my actions; Google Drive for storing and sharing files with collaborators (peers/colleagues) easily; and a lot more, actually! Please do yourself a favor and figure out which productivity tools are right for your purpose and download them! Keep them in your smartphone, tablet, laptop or in all of them – just don’t forget to bring these gadgets with you. Most of these applications can even be used together allowing you to spend less time being more productive.

productivity apps

  1. Categorize your tasks – Alright, now make two columns on a piece of paper or a spreadsheet separating the easy from the hard tasks, assignments you can work on with internet connection from the ones you can do without. You can also add in your deadline date as a note on a third additional column. This will help you prioritize tasks that need to be done right away and schedule your plans around it to be able to accomplish what you have to do without losing your mind!
  1. Device a plan before your trip – What I always have is a calendar I populate with my travel itineraries and work schedule to try to create a schedule I can follow and have a backup plan if things don’t go as planned. I want to keep realistic expectations of what I can accomplish when, so I don’t spread myself too thin. I know it’s hard to be spontaneous on trips when you have to earn money somehow or when your colleagues are relying on you to finish your job especially if it’s a prerequisite to accomplishing theirs. Make sure there’s a reliable internet connection available at the hotel/hostel you’re staying at by reading the reviews or that there’s a space where you can have peace and quiet to get things done. Do not “plan as you go” with this one. It takes some creativity and dedication to create and stick to a routine especially when you are always on the move, dealing with time differences and mind you, unexpected events that may set you back! So don’t be complacent, plan well.

Planning tech

  1. Keep your devices charged – Also, bring your chargers, extra batteries and power banks! Trust me, you wouldn’t want to face the horror of your laptop dying on you right before you hit that submit button or while taking an important Skype call in a spot without a power outlet! Just always be ready for hiccups along the way.
  1. Bring/rent a pocket wifi or get a SIM card with data options – No matter how much you plan, sometimes something just trips you up and leave you crying for help. I need to be online 90% of the time, if not all the time, on days I am scheduled to work – so not having Internet connection is unacceptable. Hence, all these backups. If nothing works despite your best efforts, at least you have a local number to call your clients and inform them.
  1. Turn on your favorite music playlist – Play whatever motivates you. It can be your new jam, alternative rock, piano or orchestra music. Go for whatever you’re in the mood for that isn’t too distracting for you. I reserve my “danceable” tunes for creative work; instrumental piano for some serious brainstorming or data analysis. Just remember to keep your earphones on, you wouldn’t want to get death stares from others who are trying to focus on their own businesses.

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  1. Have a break – Yes, you need this! Do a quick exercise, eat a healthy snack or breathe in fresh air. Sometimes, that’s all you need to unblock your thoughts and get new ideas coming. When you feel stuck, move away from your laptop and take a deep breath or three – just pause for a second and take things easy.

So when’s your next trip? Are you ready yet? Share your best productivity tips in the comments with me, will ya? 😉

Posted by Sarah in Travel Tips, 31 comments