😉 I’m taking this challenge upon myself for the first time.
I thought THE Europe trip would be THE only trip I’ll experience this year. But of course, God always has better plans. 🙂 He delights in blessing and surprising His children, and I do love surprises so I am one happy daughter. 😉
You probably know that I love Korea, of course, the one in the South. 🙂 I’ve been in Seoul only once in 2011 but my soul longs for it since then. I have hoped to return in 2012 and the following years but it didn’t happen, just not meant to be back then…
It was at this dinner for Mark’s birthday celebration when I remembered to ask Eia when is she going back to Korea, she goes there atleast yearly. I asked because I would request her to buy my favorite sunscreen which she bought for me early this year. She said she would go back in October and invited us to go with her to Busan, she said it’s just a weekend trip. So Gill and I entertained the thought quite quickly, a few days later we had our flights booked! 🙂
As of this writing, we only have a month and 4 days before that #TRIPnotTrainToBusan. 🙂 I’ll post more about it after that quick getaway. So before and during this trip, I thought of doing some sort of a travel challenge. Since this trip is not “planned,” I have to be within budget this time, well I should always travel within budget but since it was my first time in Europe, I didn’t know much what to expect and how much to spend so I think I kinda went over the top. ;P Don’t worry, I learned a lot so the future trips would be better, budget wise. 😉
For the #TRIPnotTrainToBusan, we only have 3 full days (Saturday, Sunday and Monday). The target overall budget is Php 30k, that includes the airfare (almost 10k), accommodation (around 6k), visa processing (Php 800), so I only have around Php 13k for food, transportation and shopping(?!). So for 3 days, my budget is around Php 4k per day which is fairly decent. ;P
So the challenge(s) is keeping within the budget and travelling light. This seems so easy, but for me, believe me, it’s tough, and it’s an understatement. I have travelled a few times and I have to admit, I always, that means without fail, felt that I spent more than I should (because I didn’t set a budget for each trip) so I wouldn’t actually know how I fared. For the Europe trip alone, I think I shopped more before the trip than during the actual trip, I bought camera, luggage, clothes, shoes, etc. When it comes to packing light, I’m still not good at it, I only have a couple of short trips which I packed just enough ensembles, but for most trips, I overpack, period.
For this trip and the trips to follow, I hope to get better as time passes by. So I’ll start with this short trip, if I do well this time, it is likely I’ll become a better traveler in no time. 😉 Well, I believe, I’ll become better at this, I know I can, always by God’s grace. 🙂 Pls cheer me on, okay? 😉
“Investment in travel is an investment in yourself.” ~ Matthew Karsten
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous
It can’t be denied that travelling is one of the best sources of one’s learning and maturity. Whether you travel alone or with family/friends, you get to learn a thing or two about yourself, about others, about life in general. You just bloom and continue to blossom from the experience.
We have different reasons why we travel. After reading this post (from seed to flower) by Mari Jasmine, I too asked myself the reasons why I love to travel. The first reason that comes to mind is that I want to see and experience God’s wonderful creation, when we travel, you get to see that the world is so vast and so beautiful, you couldn’t grasp how great our Creator is. I love all things beautiful, I think everyone loves beauty, one of the best ways to experience beauty is to travel, I haven’t traveled much, but so far, every single city that I get to visit looks beautiful to me, each one is different but each one has its beauty to showcase and to put anyone in awe.
After I experienced spring in Seoul, South Korea for the first time, I dreamt of traveling to cold places, to experience spring and autumn in different continents, most especially, Europe. It’s generally warm (sometimes really hot in the Philippines) so when I travel, I hope to feel cool breeze, fresh air and lots of beauty around.
Aside from witnessing God’s wonderful creation and experiencing the cool weather, I also want to eat different food, and just savor the flavor which each distinct city offers. Everyone loves to eat, right, I am definitely not an exception. 😉
Alright, I want to shop too, but I know it’s not too practical to buy a lot because there’s just so many more wonderful things than stuff/material things, so I try my best to limit my spending so that I can save up the money for another travel.
In my recent travel to Europe, I’ve learned a lot, for someone who is a self-confessed late-bloomer, I definitely have a lot more to learn!! Thank God for the opportunity to travel, I get to learn lessons which make me wiser, a little bit stronger and better as a person, and as a traveler.
Duh, Ryah? When will you ever learn?
This trip is my 7th international travel, but it’s the farthest and the longest. All of my first 6 travels took only a week and only within Asia. This time, it’s in Europe, we traveled to 6 cities within 3 weeks. Next time, (i) I should start packing early, not on the day of the travel. (ii) I should plan my wardrobe ahead of time, (iii) mix and match, (iv) remember that I can wash my undies right after taking a bath, so don’t bring too much, and (v) I can also do the laundry too, laundry shops are available everywhere. If I didn’t bring enough clothes, (vi) I can shop for more clothes, right? Shopping is part of travelling. 🙂 (vii) If I will be hopping from one city to another, bring medium luggage only. (viii) If I will stay in one or two cities only, I can bring the large luggage only if the vacation is two weeks or longer and I expect to do some shopping.
2. Stick to your budget.
I have budgeted Php2,000 per day for the trip. It should have been enough if only I used the daily budget to food and transportation only. The budget for shopping should be separate. For future travels, especially to Europe, I will budget Php3,000 per day for food and transportation, pls note that this is a pretty generous daily budget. The budget for shopping should be in a different wallet or pouch, never mix up the money for both allowances. Before the trip, the only must-buy in my mind is the leather bag in Florence, well I planned to buy a few more stuff like the Little Prince book and Jane Austen classics, I forgot to budget on the fridge magnets which are my mandatory souvenirs. If only I have more space in my luggage and if only it’s not too heavy, I wanted to buy the Starbucks demitasse in cities where it is available. Oh well! No regrets though…. sometimes I think, the “heavy luggage” situation happened because I am being spared from shopping too much, which is good. 🙂
Are there things I regret not buying because of my fear of carrying an even heavier luggage? Yes, there are a few things – some hardbound books in Notting Hill Bookshop, the Starbucks demitasse in Paris, France, a few more Leonidas chocolate bars, some more Cath Kidston handcreams, and the Lovea shampoo & shower cream, this is a French brand of natural products which I bought in one of Milan shopping malls, had I known that I would love these products, I should have bought more travel size tubes, or 1 big bottle for each. Oh well, lesson learned!
More often than not, we travel because we want to relax, we want to rest in a far place, somewhere far from work, or from anything that causes stress. We spent 3 to 4 days in each city that we visited, we stayed longest in UK, 5 days, because I requested for it, I wanted to see my family and a couple of friends. As you know from experience, 3 or even 4 days are not enough to explore a city, even the small one. Since this is our first time in Europe, we wanted to see most of the tourist spots, so we booked tours and hop-on-hop-off buses in Florence, Milan, Paris, London and Rome. In Brussels, we depended on Leah, since she lives there and we only had 2 full days in Brussels, on our 3rd day, we even managed to go to Gent, in Graslei Canal, before we moved to London.
In every place that we visited, I can say with all conviction that we didn’t have enough time to chill one day and then explore the next day. Well, this is perfectly understandable, next time, we know better. On my next trip to Europe, 4 cities will be maximum in 3 weeks or 1 month, and spend atleast 4 full days in each city. I personally wanted to explore more of Tuscany, more of Paris, but we just didn’t have enough time. I love San Gimignano that’s why I want to go back, as for Paris, we barely had time to go to other landmarks except for the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, I want to go back to see the Eiffel Tower at night, to see more of the Louvre Museum, check out more museums and gardens, chill more, drink coffee at pavement cafes, eat more macarons and other French pastries, and maybe, just maybe, finally buy my first ever LV or Chloé bag. 🙂
4. Avoid last minute shopping.
Since we didn’t have enough time to chill, explore and shop in each city, we always made the most of our remaining hours in the city to shop or buy souvenirs for family and friends. When we do this, there’s a chance that we miss our flight or train ride, which actually happened to us in Paris going to Brussels, and almost happened again in Brussels going to London. It’s expensive to book a new ticket on the day of travel, well, we’re grateful that there’s another schedule that afternoon from Paris to Brussels.
On our last day in London, I went out even though it was raining hard because I wanted to buy a big bottle of Pixi glow toner, which I thought might be cheaper since it is a UK brand. I was lucky enough to be able to buy it. After getting it, I went back to the hotel just in time for our check out, we went to the airport via Uber. At the airport, all liquids must be put inside a seal-able plastic bag. The ones which are 100ml or bigger should be checked in. I totally forgot about the toner that I bought, 250ml, which I put inside my bag after I purchased it in the morning. So naturally, I was not allowed to bring it with me, I had no choice but to leave it, and “throw away my £18!! 😦 Mailing it to my cousin’s home is more expensive than the item itself so I let it go and charged it to experience. 😦
5. Savor the food, the fruits, the flowers, as much as you can.
Back in Manila for 20 days, I must admit, setting aside the beauty and charm of Europe, including the cold weather of Brussels and London, what I miss the most are the fruits (cherries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries) which are soooo yummy, readily available in grocery stores and so cheap!! So while I was there, I ate as much as I can, but I still miss it, if only I can bring a lot back home. I miss the flowers too, they’re too lovely and visible just anywhere. Next time, I won’t hesitate to buy a bouquet and have a photo op with it. 😉 I miss the coffee, the chocolates, the macarons… Okay, I miss Europe, pls take me back! ;D
6. Take lots of photos.
Yes, I did take lots of photos but I think they’re not enough to make a good album, most of the photos were taken thru the IG stories which have low resolution. One lesson learned is to use either digicam or iPhone for high resolution so it’s ready for album or for printing. If you want to have your photo taken in a particular place, don’t hesitate to ask your travel buddies. I actually don’t have much photos because I was too shy to ask my travel buddies.. Next time, I won’t be shy anymore. 😉
7. Save up for travel.
Don’t spend too much on stuff, so you can travel more often. My dream place is Europe, since it’s a big continent, with lots of beautiful cities to experience, I need to save up a lot so I can go back often and visit three to four cities at a time. 😉
Hope you’re able to learn something from this post and apply it on your future travels. 😍😘
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV
When I travel, I am happy with the reality that I am with family and/or friends, and we will share lots of wonderful memories together in a different place. That’s why I only have very few musts – must see, must eat, must buy – the rest of the trip, I happily go with the flow, go where my family or friends wish to go or what they wish to do.
For my recent trip to Europe, my dream destination, I’ve been listing my musts even before I bought the ticket for it, that’s why when it’s already actually happening, my list came in (so) handy. 🙂
I posted this list in my previous post, I was able to do 12 out of 19. I am very happy because the 7 things which I wasn’t able to do were replaced by 77++ more beautiful experiences (trip to Bellagio, Lake Como / Lugano, Switzerland / Brussels & Gent in Belgium) which I wouldn’t trade for anything else. 😀
Eiffel Tower – ✔
Eat macarons at Laduree Pierre Herme – ✔
Coffee at pavement cafes (done in Italy) – ✔
Buy Little Prince hardbound book – ✔ not in Paris, but in Notting Hill, London
Pasta, pizza & gelato! – ✔✔✔
Leaning tower of Piza – ✔✔✔ Kim and I even climbed up the Pisa and we were stunned by the gorgeous view from the top!
Colosseum – ✔✔ We saw it both day time and night time, in both times, absolutely picturesque, right Caye? 🙂
Buy leather bag in Florence San Gimignano – ✔ So happy to find a very lovely but not pricey brown leather bag
Bond with Jel, Jelan & Mariel (and auntie too!)- ✔✔✔ I was happiest in London because I was able to spend time with them, so love them!! ♥♥♥
Visit Iris, Bong & Kids – ✔✔✔ Happy to catch up with Bong and Iris, such precious time to be with friends 🙂
Watch a theater play – Miss Saigon – hopefully next time I’ll get to watch this
Go to UK landmarks, Notting Hill – ✔✔ Yes! We went to Notting Hill bookstore and the apartment where the character of Hugh Grant lives 🙂 I loved the bookstore so much, if only I have the space on my luggage for those lovely hardbound books…
Buy twinning teas, ‘after 8’ mint chocolate, Jane Austen’s cloth-bound classic set – nope! hopefully next time!
Meet Peony Lim 😉 – she was in Miami when I was in London, not meant to be ;P
Photo op with real peonies – ✔ no photos with peonies but I got to see them in real life (I think in Milan and Rome) So beautiful!!!
Umbrella park at Bath – nope! next time 🙂
Get Jane Austen pound coins as souvenir – not available, guess only few were released
National Gallery via Trafalgar Square- Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in Room – nope, next time, too!
I thank and praise God for the 77++ unfathomable beauty that He showed us and made us experience in this trip. I trust He has much more wonderful things in-store for me. 🙂
Back from my dream travel for almost a week, I wouldn’t want to miss this chance to glorify God for causing it to happen.
A prayer is answered, a dream is fulfilled. My is full.
Europe is my dream destination. I had it in my heart in my late teens. Can’t remember how and why, I guess it’s one of those dreams that God has planted in my .
I’ve been open about it, family and friends know about this dream. I believe in the power of proclaiming your dreams, believing God to will it in His time and prepare for it as you wait for Him to make it happen.
Everything is kept in my , lessons learned included. The photos and my nonexistent photography skill couldn’t make justice as to how I beautifully see it, feel it, and reminisce of every single precious moment I experienced, every single person I spent time with and those who I briefly encountered all throughout the trip. I am grateful (beyond words) to GOD who give great gifts to His children (James 1:17). He has blessed us, spoiled us, showed us marvelous, unfathomable beauty and kindness (yes, still exists) in the world (despite all the scary things happening around), and protected us.
I’m back to my normal life, but I am equally grateful and happy because this is where God wants me to be at this time. Bloom where you’re planted, right?
God knows I will always want to go back to Europe, He knows what’s in my but I trust His will & want His best for my life, far more than my version of what’s best for me. ️
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
If you are a loved one or a very dear friend of mine, you sure know that Europe is a big dream of mine. I actually have 3 big dreams, only God and me know what these 3 dreams are. One of these big dreams is to live, work and retire in Europe with my family. In 35 days, I will get to see, smell, taste, feel and experience Europe in the flesh. 🙂
I think I was in my early 20s when I started dreaming of travelling to Europe, it was so far-fetched back then because promo fares were still unheard of. Thanks to the changing times, travel has become affordable to many.
In 2010, mi amiga Lianne and I promised to each other that we would go on our Europe trip, we were taking Spanish language classes during that time, the agreed year was 2015. Fast-forward to 2015, mi amiga got married and had her first baby. As for me, tax issue hit the Filipino staff in our company, we had to pay our taxes and had to push back all our travel plans with friends.
In early 2015, I got promoted and transferred back to my first department in ADB, OGC. I met new set of friends. My default travel buddies had different travel plans so I had no one to go with me to Europe. In my new set of friends in OGC, Caye and Kim were keen on going to Europe, my prayers were answered, thank you, Lord! Each of us has different reasons for wanting this Europe trip but God has caused us to be each other’s travel buddy. Thank you so much, Lord. 😊
Last year, a few days before my birthday, Caye, Kim, and I booked our ticket via Qatar Airways! We started out counting from 200 plus days and now we’re down to 35 days!
As of this writing, we already have our Schengen visa. We are hoping to get our UK visa in early May. I have practiced packing my clothes, I will edit it some more but I think I’m 90% good. We’ll be meeting a couple of friends and we’ll visit my cousin Jel and her adorable family in London.
So far, here’s my personal list of the things I want to do/experience subject to Caye & Kim’s approval 😊:
National Gallery via Trafalgar Square- Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in Room 43
My hashtags for this trip are ready too:
Before we reached to this point, we had gone through a lot of challenges and loss along the way, but in all of these, God remained faithful. He caused us to endure everything and believe that this Europe dream is not only our dream but most importantly, HIS dream for Caye, Kim and me. 😊
And we are too grateful and blessed to experience the fulfillment of God’s dream for us.
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: – Ecclesiastes 3:1