How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!

You have to take action to get it!!
You have to take action to get it!!

It’s 2017 and it’s January. At the beginning of every new year, it’s the norm to think about what you did last year and what you’re going to do this year.

Last year, I travelled to 10 counties. 10 countries!

However did I do that?

My husband - The Music Producer and I in Milan - Italy.
My husband – The Music Producer and I in Milan – Italy.

I’m not a multi-millionaire. Neither is my husband!

I didn’t win the lottery.

I didn’t quit my job.

I didn’t change my lifestyle.

I didn’t throw my one and only child into boarding school.

I didn’t re-locate to a warmer (cheaper) climate.

I didn’t sell my stuff!

The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” - Fixing bikes. As boys do!
The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” – Fixing bikes. As boys do!

So how did I do it?

Well, if you look at my About Me page, you will see that I am married, I have a son, and I have a job as a School Vice – Principal / Social Media Manager in Berlin, as well as this wonderful lifestyle, travel, expat blog!

What I mean to say is that I live a normal life. Just like you.

I’m married, in a relationship with someone, or have been single. Just like you.

I have family responsibilities. Just like you.

I have a full-time job. Just like you.

And by god. I have a daily budget. Absolutely, just like you.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" in Switzerland!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” in Switzerland!

And yet.

And yet…..

There was something that I did differently that might have been slightly the opposite of you.

I wanted to travel to more destinations last year, and I did.

Me at the Grotto in the Algarve - Portugal!
Me at the Grotto in the Algarve – Portugal!

I wanted to get on that plane and go to the Philippines. I wanted to visit a Chinese-speaking country. I wanted to give Spain another chance, so we went to other parts of Spain. In fact, we loved the region so much, that we added a week to Portugal as well! I wanted to take that train to Switzerland, so we did. OMG! “The Tall Young Gentleman” and I were spending money over the summer, as if it were going out of fashion, so we decided to invest in sandwiches, salad and cake whilst travelling to Luxembourg. We sort of missed our transport in Denmark, and had to buy a new ticket in Copenhagen. Again!

We were desperate to travel through the peak season of the summer holidays, so we used all the summer weekends!

We took the long-distance-inter-country-night-train.

From Berlin.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" didn't look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” didn’t look too happy that for Switzerland, we took the Sparpreis Europa city night line train!

I’m totally mad! But I did it anyway LOL!

The point I’m making is that you don’t have to do anything drastic if you want to afford a life of travel.

You don’t have to choose between having it all and having nothing at all, and you definitely don’t have to quit your lifestyle!

I'm looking gorgeous in the Philippines! ©Scott Herder - BoboandChiChi.com
I’m looking gorgeous in the Philippines!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

I’m living proof of that.

Oh yes, I’ve done my GAP year, and my backpacking era. I’ve slept in a casino, I’ve been in a hostel where not 1 but 2 complete strangers, were sleeping on my €2 /$3 per night bed! I’ve been to Scotland where my B&B (which I had already paid for mind you), had completely disappeared. Completely! I’ve booked hotels in Italy and couldn’t remember the name of our 5-star historical hotel. (thankfully, I remembered where I first saw it. In the New York Times)! I had an awful time in Barcelona, had two flight delays and ended up having to spend the complete night at the airport as my final destination was two (2) hours away, and there was no transport that could take me there!

Heck! I even missed my flight to Qatar and had to go to Korea instead!

I’ve adjusted my travelling style over time according to my circumstances, who I’m travelling with, my budget, and my mood!

And let me tell you. I’m not 20 anymore so those fleapit hostels, motels, cheap-I-don’t-wanna-know-who-slept-here-previously are definitely now gone!

Yes, I’m going to keep an eye on my hard-working money, but no, I’m no longer going to be sharing a room with 20 people, 10 people or even 5 other people!

Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.
Our bedroom at the Villa Akacja, Leba in Poland.

Nope!

Those days were fun, but they’re over.

Absolutely.

I think!!

This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous hotel / hostel prices in Copenhagen. I really couldn't justify the cost!
This is how we felt when we discovered the outrageous hotel / hostel prices in Copenhagen. I really couldn’t justify the cost!

In short, I’m enormously happy to go to hostels and we went to quite a few last year, but we paid that little bit extra for two (2) private rooms (since our child is a teenager and a great traveller too), privacy, calmness, and security. We also went to fancy hotel resorts and even slept in an antiquated classical castle, on the German seaside!

So, how can you have it all?

If you’re under 25 years old, you don’t need it all, and that’s the darn truth!

Get yourself a backpack for motivation, work hard, then take a gap year!
Get yourself a backpack for motivation, work hard, then take a gap year!

Get yourself a backpack, work for a couple of months in a local shop, pub, or business. Take a gap year before university or after university, in the summer, in the winter, or whatever, and whenever, have about €1,000 / $1,000 or £1,000 at the initial stage. and you’re good to go!

I’m not talking about an around-the-world trip here or flight costs, just the old let’s-see-how-far-this-money-will-take me scenario. Grab an old car, grab a few friends, and off you go. If you’re in Europe, stay on the continent and do a road trip. Ditto the Americas. But my goodness, the USA is good for the greatest roadtrip of your life. If you’re in Asia, you’re gonna have a thrilling great time.

And when it’s over, it’s over!

You come back, buckle down, save up, and then do it again.

Properly!

Grab a few friends, and off you go. You're gonna have a thrilling great time!
Grab a few friends, and off you go. You’re gonna have a thrilling great time!

Now for those of you over 25 years old with jobs, families, responsibilities, and crossroads in front of you, do what I do.

I live life to the full, I work hard at my office and on my blog, and I get creative.

Yes, creative.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" having fun in Bangkok.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” having fun in Bangkok.
  • Our son is 14 years old which means I can’t travel in the low season. Just like you.

What do I do?

I book ahead. Far ahead!

In 2012, we went on a 3 week trip to Tuscany. In August!

I know. I know. I forgot it was going to be boiling. Don’t judge me!

Anyway, I took out a map, planned the places that we wanted to go and started doing research and contacting hostels, hotels, villas and castles. Yes, castles. And the most we paid for our 300-year-old-5-star-hotel-in-Pisa-on-the-river was €52.00 per day. For 2 rooms, en-suite including breakfast! For the 3 of us LOL!

We started planning in 2011.

Ouch! I'm still smiling. I'm still smiling! Even though there's a monkey on my head in Bali! Photo @Frank Böster
Ouch! I’m still smiling. I’m still smiling! Even though there’s a monkey on my head in Bali!
Photo @Frank Böster

In 2014, we went to four (4) destinations outside Europe where we live. We went to Thailand, Indonesia, Qatar, and Korea. We started planning it in 2012.

In 2015, we went to the Baltic regions of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Finland. Actually, we took a ferry to Helsinki, but still! Anyway, we took a bus-coach. The journey took us 26 hours, and we were knackered and exhausted, but we didn’t die!

We started planning it in 2014.

In 2016, I went back to Asia, but our family trips were firmly based in Europe. Brexit or not! We went to Spain, Portgual, Denmark, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Slovakia, and other parts of Germany.

Again, planning started in 2015, and all were in consideration of the school holidays!

The outcome of Brexit was crazy, but it shouldn't stop you travelling! @Visit England - Rich J Jones
The outcome of Brexit was crazy, but it shouldn’t stop you travelling!
@Visit England – Rich J Jones
  • If you live in Europe, you get a minimum of 24 holidays per year and between 11-15 public holidays on top of that. That makes 35 days. Many get more! If you start your holidays on Friday evening or Saturday morning, you’ve got the weekends too. When I went to India, I went for 4 weeks but on paper, I actually went for 17 working days or 2.5 weeks!

And how did I do this?

Over Easter and May Day weekend. And depending on the year, if the public holiday is in the middle of the week (like Xmas 2015) you can just take the Monday and Tuesday off and you’ve got the weekend on both sides anyway. That makes 9 days off but 2 official holidays.

Boom!!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" skiing at Rokytnice nad Jizerou - the Czech Republic!!
“The Tall Young Gentleman” skiing at Rokytnice nad Jizerou – the Czech Republic!

If you live in Europe, everywhere is so close. Poland is 1.5 hours away from Berlin. Denmark about 4-5 hours. By car.

England is 1.5 hours away by plane. France, Greece, and Italy, are about 2-3 hours. Spain, Turkey, Portugal, Morocco, and Egypt about 3-4 hours.

By train, the sky is the European limit. As for coaches or buses, we travelled all the way from Finland for all of €50, and we didn’t die!

In short, distance isn’t an issue.

You can fly, take the car, train, bus, sail, or even cycle! Europe is great for the bicycle. If cash is short, camping is available all over Europe, as well as bunkhouses, hostels and couchsurfing for absolutely free!

My family & I in Thailand - All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.
My family & I in Thailand – All smiles and bunny ears at the end of a great day at Baanchang Elephant Park.
  • We’re comfortable. We’re middle-class. Just like you.

What do I do?

We save, budget and plan how much we can reasonably spend.

It took us 2 years to save for our Asia trip, and so our budget in Asia was €100 per day. We spent about €850 for a flight from Berlin-Bangkok-Bali-Berlin each. We spent about €150.00 flying around in Asia itself each rather than taking the rickety all night train, and we spent between €18 per person for a lovely wooden chalet in Thailand and €70 per night for a complete house in Bali! We were there for a month.

  • Book ahead.

Far ahead!

And as for Poland, I paid €26 per night for the lovely floor-heated-free-WIFI-on-the Baltic-Sea double room!

If the budget is “reasonable” then use B&B’s, pensions, and small or budget hotels.

"The Tall Young Gentleman" with the Pearly King in London.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” with the Pearly King in London.

If you’ve got the cash. Go for it. Plenty of wonderful places in which you’ll be treated like royalty!

  • We keep our eyes open and go on various mailing lists. Just like you.
20 years of EasyJet flying!
20 years of EasyJet flying!

So go ahead and register with airlines and transport corporations that you like, and as many as you like.

Register with hotel and hostel brands that you like. They always have special deals and discount offers for their members. I once flew to Krakow with EasyJet for free! And why? Because I was on their mailing list and it was a new destination.

If you’re travelling miles apart, book ahead and take a plane.

It’s generally not worth travel hacking within Europe as flights are so cheap, and destinations are short.

If money is an issue, there are plenty of no-frills, low budgets airlines available to you such as EasyJet and the like. If you book ahead, fares can be as little as €4.99, sometimes less!

"The Tall Young Gentleman" taking to the sails in Mardorf.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” taking to the sails in Mardorf.

You can also go by boat and sail away onto the sea which is exactly what we did when we went to Finland!

In many cases, trains are cheaper than planes if you book ahead, and certainly in Germany, children under 15 years old are completely and utterly free! We travelled to Budapest from Berlin which was a thirteen (13) hour train journey and it only cost €69.00 for myself and my boy. First class!

For train travel all around the world check out the website of The Man in Seat Sixty-One . . . or Deutsche Bahn.

Keira Knightley on the passenger train in Poland!
Keira Knightley on the passenger train in Poland!

But remember, if you’re using the Deutsche Bahn website, change the location to Germany and use the English word for Deutschland which is Germany! NOT the UK/Ireland one! And then change the language to English!

  • Be creative with flexibility! We have school and jobs. Just like you.
Just because you have a fixed job, doesn't mean that you can't look for an adventure!
Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t look for an adventure!

Just because you have a fixed job, doesn’t mean that you can’t be flexible. If you’re looking for an adventure. Use skycanner and go for “anywhere” within your budget and then go on the airline’s own website.

It pays to be a little flexible if you can. You don’t have to limit yourself. You don’t even have to make up your mind. Use your home-base as a starting point and then go for “anywhere” and just keep trying out different destinations until you’re happy with it, or the location is within your budget.

Go to Eastern Europe instead of Western Europe.

Go to South America instead of North America.

Go to Wales instead of England.

Or not.

Don’t choose. Go where you want to go.

If you're American, and you only feel comfortable visiting other American cities, that's alright too!
If you’re American, and you only feel comfortable visiting other American cities, that’s alright too!

If you live in North America, I know that it’s more complicated. However, if you’ve worked hard, don’t feel guilty. TAKE your holidays and USE them for your own pleasure. Don’t paint the porch. The porch can wait.

Go to that place that you’ve always wanted to go to. Do the road trip. Fly to Argentina.

If you feel more comfortable staying in North America, then stay in North America. North America is an amazing destination and so beautiful. I’m not here to guilt trip you. It’s your holiday.

If you feel more comfortable, going on a package tour. Go for it.

If you feel more comfortable travelling with the whole family. It’s your call.

Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
Stuffed sticky rice wrapped up in a banana leaf in Bangkok. Go on. Try it!
  • Don’t forget to ask. We love a bargain. Just like you.

Ask for discounts. Ask for a bigger room. Ask for an included breakfast. Ask for WiFi. Ask for an extra bed. Ask for free parking. Ask about children prices, student prices, “elderly” prices, corporate prices, even regional or local prices. If you’re from “there” let them know. You never know. If you don’t ask, they can’t help you, or reduce the prices.

Ask, and ask again.

Being a British European means being widely travelled.
Being a British European means being widely travelled.

As far as international relations is concerned, last year was a disaster so I’m taking part in bringing the world together as part of a Pledge to Travel campaign.

I’m going to #ExploreMore2017. You should too.

It doesn’t matter if it’s “only” 2 months, 2 weeks, or 2 days. Just know that you can afford to travel. You can have it all.

I'm a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin - © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I’m a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin –
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

And now for what you’ve all been waiting for…..Where am I going in 2017?

Drum roll pleeeeease!

Travel plans this year are:

Romania
Romania
  • Romania
  • The Czech Republic
Croatia
Croatia
  • Croatia
  • France
Lake Bled in Slovenia
Lake Bled in Slovenia
  • Slovenia
  • Holland
Sweden
Sweden
  • Sweden
  • England
Russia
Russia
  • Russia
  • Poland
The next TBEX Europe Conference is in Ireland. Again! Ho! For the the luck of the lovely Irish!
The next TBEX Europe Conference is in Ireland. Again!
Ho! For the luck of the lovely Irish!
  • Ireland for TBEX (the Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference)
  • Austria
Austria
Austria
  • And of course, Germany! Ho! Ho! Ho!
Beer for everyone in Germany 'cos the drinks are on meeeee!
Beer for everyone in Germany ‘cos the drinks are on meeeee!

I travel a lot for leisure and pleasure. I live in Germany which many consider to be an expensive Western nation.

I can afford a life of travel and a comfortable Berlin lifestyle.

I choose to have it all.

HOW I CAN AFFORD A LIFE OF TRAVEL. DON’T CHOOSE. HAVE IT ALL! BUT YOU HAVE TO TAKE ACTION TO GET IT!!

I pledge to travel and to share others how to do so too! #ExploreMore2017
I pledge to travel and to share others how to do so too!
#ExploreMore2017

This article is not sponsored, and the thrilling countries that I’m going to visit in 2017, are my very own!

It’s January. Well, hello there!

I’ll be making an announcement this month that will either having me jumping up and down like a Jack-in-the-Box, or crying over my hot cocoa! Find out throughout January!

The British Shorts Film Festival will take place from 12th – 18th January, 2017

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017.  Save the Date!

At the beginning of  January, I’ll be going to Holland, and at the end of it, I’ll be skiing in my favourite place, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, in the Czech Republic!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, you’re missing out!

January is going to be spectacular!

Watch this space!

Please also note that there is now a Booking.com affiliate link (for the very first time) connected to a few hotels. Please consider using the link, because every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my link I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself! A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How I can afford a life of travel. Don't choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!
How I can afford a life of travel. Don’t choose. Have it all! But you have to take action to get it!!

Do you have any travel plans for 2017? Join me and let me know where you’re going to #ExploreMore2017!

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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How I went to 10 unbelievable countries, went into a media frenzy over Brexit, and lived to tell the tale in 2016. If you want the sky, you’ve got to reach for it!

Waving the flag of Britishness!
Waving the flag of Britishness!

Happy New Year everyone.

It’s officially 2017!!!!!

My goodness!

2016 was a mixed bag of an incredible year, but that hasn’t stopped me from making plans to conquer the world. I’ll give you all the details next week!!

But first, let’s take a walk down memory lane of all the countries that I went to last year, and what I did. According to my statistics, 76,000 people read my blog last year. 76,000 people!! To think I only started this blog a little over three (3) years ago. Isn’t that marvellous?

Thank you all so much!
Thank you all so much!

Thank you so much for reading, making comment, and sticking with me. I love you all!

So let’s start with the country of my birth (England), and end with my new home-country (Germany). Here we go. Choose your poison….!

THE 10 COUNTRIES THAT I WENT TO LAST YEAR WERE:

  • England
  • Denmark
  • Luxembourg
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Slovakia
  • Philippines
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • Germany

BRITAIN:

The outcome of Brexit was crazy! @Visit England - Rich J Jones
The outcome of Brexit was crazy!
@Visit England – Rich J Jones

The Queen was 90 year last year, and in a world of constant change and in a state of fear, I’m awfully glad that Queen Elizabeth II is still on the throne, ‘cos we need her!

And OMG! The outcome of Brexit was crazy! Sadly, we British Europeans, and others like us who voted for #Remain, lost out. Having said that, you should have seen how many newspaper and radio interviews I did at that time, as well as TV appearances. One newspaper even hounded me for an interview at midnight!

I refused!

Afternoon Tea with the Queen!
Afternoon Tea with the Queen!

Here are the posts that I wrote about being British, and what it means.

ENGLAND:

Lambs being born in Cheshire!
Lambs being born in Cheshire!

The outcome of Brexit was awful. And I’m very, very sad, but I’m still British, and I love my original home-country that is England – the land of Hope and Glory n’ all that! In fact, last year I went back for my Masters graduation convention ceremony, which was full of pomp and tradition, but made me feel very much back to my roots, and proud of not only myself, but of my country too.

Whatever happens. I’ll still always be English.

Here’s what I wrote:

I'm an MA graduate from the University of Chester. Whoopee!
I’m an MA graduate from the University of Chester.
Whoopee!

DENMARK:

Top 9 reasons why Danish food isn't just smørrebrød, seasonal berries & herbs, but can be awfully tasty! © Visit Denmark
Top 9 reasons why Danish food isn’t just smørrebrød, but can be awfully tasty!
© Visit Denmark

I hadn’t been to Denmark for years, so it was great to get back there. It wasn’t cheap though, so if you want to visit any Nordic country without selling your mother, here’s what you should do!

LUXEMBOURG:

Part of the Luxembourg summer spirit! Luxembourg: A smart guide to the Grand Duchy of one of Europe's smallest countries!
Part of the Luxembourg summer spirit!

Over the summer, I decided to take The Tall Young Gentleman on a Summer European Challenge which consisted of spending the summer going to a different European country! Our boy is 14 years old going on 20, so it was just lovely spending quality time with him, before he grows up, and it’s too late!

Thankfully, he’s as great a traveller as I am, but a bit of a snob. You should have seen him whinge over taking the second class night train…!

Having said that, by the time our son was 5, he had already been to 32 countries, and at 12, he was already talking about spending his GAP year in Thailand, so there’s that!

Anyway, here it goes:

A most delicious Bosso Spätzle! How to eat cheaply in Luxembourg!
A most delicious Bosso Spätzle!
How to eat cheaply in Luxembourg!

PORTUGAL:

Lisbon is pretty small so that everywhere is walkable. You can travel around the city by bus, train, funicular or tram. You can also hang on while the tram is moving, but don't do that at home kids!
Lisbon is pretty small so everywhere is walkable. You can travel around by bus, train, funicular or tram.

Our family holiday this year was to the Mediterranean. And we had a most wonderful time in Lisbon, the Algarves, and Porto in Portugal.

I can’t understand why most travellers and tourists don’t seem to go there, as it’s small, historical, not too expensive, the people are lovely, and it’s really rather pleasant to visit. Perhaps, they’re trying to keep it a secret.

Whoops!

Here’s why we went, and you should too!

Sailing on the Douro River in Porto!
Sailing on the Douro River in Porto!

SPAIN:

Paella is Spain's national dish and traditional enough to be a symbol of Spanish streetfood too!
Paella is Spain’s national dish and traditional enough to be a symbol of Spanish streetfood too!

Our family holiday this year was to the Mediterranean. And not only did we spend it in Portugal, but in Spain too!

Even though I had a most stressful visit to Barcelona in 2015, Madrid & Seville in 2016, turned it all around!

Here’s how Spain changed my opinion:

Spanish tapas galore!
Spanish tapas galore!

SLOVAKIA:

But what should I dooooooo? Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!
But what should I dooooooo?
Should you visit Bratislava, or stay at home and not bother!

Once upon a time, I used to live in the Czech Republic, and for a very short time in Slovakia too. Over the summer, we took a trip down memory lane, and Slovakia was OK, but ultimately, I wasn’t impressed, because of the scamming that took place in our restaurant!

The Tall Young Gentleman wasn’t impressed either. He found Bratislava drab!

Srop scamming us in Slovakia!
Srop scamming us in Slovakia!

Read on though, and make up your own mind:

THE PHILIIPPINES:

Me in the Philippines, but could this be a James Bond moment! ©Scott Herder - BoboandChiChi.com
Me in the Philippines, but could this be a James Bond moment!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

I was very excited to be back in Asia, not only ‘cos outside of Europe, Asia is my favourite continent, but because I was going to not one new Asian destinations, but two! And, I was at a travel bloggers conference called TBEX, and on a press trip around the lovely beaches of the Philippines too!

I haven’t actually written about any of the beaches yet, but I shared many of the “on-the-spot” activities and photographs on Facebook and Twitter, so if you’re not following me there, you should!

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?
Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

SWITZERLAND:

How to spend 48 astonishing hours in Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern - On a budget!
How to spend 48 astonishing hours in Lucerne, otherwise known as Luzern – On a budget!

Switzerland was one of the countries that I decided to travel to over the summer. Even though it’s not far from Germany, I hadn’t actually been before!

And my verdict?

A lovely, lovely country!

Read on:

There is plenty to do in Lucerne so "The Tall Young Gentleman" & I made our own independent walking tour instead! Seen slightly before walking on the medieval Chapel Bridge, Water Tower, and Spreuer Bridge in Lucerne!
There is plenty to do in Lucerne so “The Tall Young Gentleman” & I made our own independent walking tour instead!

TAIWAN:

Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending 16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!
Me being a tourist in trendy Ximending
16 brilliant reasons why you should visit Taiwan!

As part of my visit to Asia last year, I opted to choose a Chinese-inspired country. And as much as I absolutely loooove Hong Kong, I chose a new destination.

I chose Taiwan.

In fact, I liked it so much that on our next family holiday to Asia, Taiwan would be one country that I would happily choose again. My German husband would adore it!

Exotic vegetables for the hotpot inTaiwan!
Exotic vegetables for the hotpot inTaiwan!

GERMANY:

Take me to the Baltic Sea in Geeeeermany! 51 reasons to go to the seaside. In Germany! ©Usedom Tourismus GmbH
Take me to the Baltic Sea in Geeeeermany!
©Usedom Tourismus GmbH

I spend a lot of my time travelling abroad, but last year, I wanted to make a huge effort travelling more around Germany. And I did!

Most of the destinations centered around the sea, and sailing, and for those of you who hadn’t thought of the seaside and Germany in one breath, well. It’s different, but really quite nice!

This year, I went to Usedom, Bremen, Osnabrück, and of course, my beloved Berlin.

Try if for yourself:

BERLIN CULTURE:

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2017 ©Lupi Spuma Fine Photography
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Spring/Summer 2017
©Lupi Spuma Fine Photography

BERLIN:

Oh yeaaaah! Berlin baby! I’ve been living here as an expat for 15 years. I know Berlin that’s why I am The British Berliner! So without further delay, here are the lovely posts that I wrote just for you:

OTHER PARTS OF GERMANY:

"The Tall Young Gentleman" taking to the sails in Mardorf.
“The Tall Young Gentleman” taking to the sails in Mardorf.

GERMAN CULTURE:

Beer for everyone in Germany 'cos the drinks are on meeeee!
Beer for everyone in Germany ‘cos the drinks are on meeeee!

OTHER STUFF!

The Bee Hive by Simon Adepetun.
The Bee Hive by Simon Adepetun.

But 2016 was an interesting year, and even though in some parts it went terribly bad with politics and terrorism, in other ways it was great.

My own brother wrote a book which was taken up by a publisher in London, and I completed my MA (Education Management) at the University of Chester which had me flying in and out of the UK every 6 weeks!

I did a lot of media appearances not only about Brexit, but about the British monarchy too. I was recently invited to an exclusive Christmas celebration at the German parliament, with members of the House of Lords, the European Parliament, and the British Embassy!

My husband – The Music Producer – worked on two EP’s, mixed songs for several artists, and produced the music sound track of an independent short film, which is now applying for competition at international film festivals around the world!

My husband - The Music Producer
My husband – The Music Producer

I started a new job as the Vice School Principal of a Language School which might also lead to one of the biggest projects of my life. I can’t talk about it at the moment, but as I said last week, if it works out, it’s going to be huge. And if it doesn’t, well…!

No need to worry. I'll do the talking! © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
No need to worry. I’ll do the talking!
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

The work of a lifestyle, expat, travel blogger is never done, so I’ll leave with you with some of my most inspiring motivational posts!

If you’ve noticed, you can now use the translation tab at the top of the page, to change my posts to the language of your choice. You can also check out some of the places where my writing and media appearances can be found, on this page here!

Heart-shaped Coeur d'Arras cheese in Nord-Pas de Calais.

In short, I had a blast in 2016, and there’s many more exciting things about to start for me in 2017!

I have a family and I have a life. Most importantly, I’ve already found my home-base – Berlin – and I’m extremely happy with where I am and who I am.

52 fantastic posts!

Thank you so much for your support everyone. 2016 was a great year. Here’s to the next.

Bottoms up!

I'm not really a beach person as I prefer mountains and rivers or beach destinations that have more than the sea to recommend them! Me at the Grotto in the Algarve!
I’m not really a beach person as I prefer mountains or beach destinations that have more than the sea to recommend them!

I have so much to say, so next week I will be sharing some of my travel destinations for 2017 with you.

It”s a New Year. Hip! Hip! Hurrah!

HOW I WENT TO 10 UNBELIEVABLE COUNTRIES, WENT INTO A MEDIA FRENZY OVER BREXIT, AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE IN 2016. IF YOU WANT THE SKY YOU’VE GOT TO REACH FOR FOR IT!

 If you want the sky, you've got to reach for it!
If you want the sky, you’ve got to reach for it!

This article is not sponsored, and the exhilarating countries that I visited in 2016, were all my very own!

In January I’ll be making an announcement that will either having me jumping up and down like a Jack-in-the-Box, or crying over my hot cocoa! Find out throughout January!

The British Shorts Film Festival will take place from 12th – 18th January, 2017

Berlin Fashion Week will take place from 17th –  20th January, 2017.  Save the Date!

At the beginning of  January, I’ll be going to Holland, and at the end of it, I’ll be skiing in my favourite place, Rokytnice nad Jizerou, in the Czech Republic!

If you’re not in Berlin in January, then where the hell are you?

January is going to be splendid!

Watch this space!

Please also note that there is now a Booking.com affiliate link (for the very first time) connected to a few hotels. Please consider using the link, because every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my link I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself! A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How I went to 10 unbelievable countries, went into a media frenzy over Brexit, and lived to tell the tale in 2016. If you want the sky, you've got to reach for it!
How I went to 10 unbelievable countries, went into a media frenzy over Brexit, and lived to tell the tale in 2016. If you want the sky, you’ve got to reach for it!

Where did you travel to last year? Are there any particular posts that you enjoyed? Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

How I went to TBEX again, and what I learnt!

Let's paaaaaarty! TBEX Manila 2016 - ©Kira Ramirez - Elegantly Wasted
Let’s paaaaaarty!
TBEX Manila 2016 –
©Kira Ramirez – Elegantly Wasted

So last week I told you all about the fear and horror of visiting a city such as Manila!

I told you about the anxiety of many a people living in a constant state of fear at home, not to talk of travelling abroad!

I also told you how well we were looked after, because I couldn’t be in Manila on my lonesome.

Oh dear me no!

Bloggers from TBEX are welcome everywhere!
Bloggers from TBEX are welcome everywhere!

I was with TBEX!

The comments of my previous post gives me the distinct impression that people are wary of going to a TBEX conference, or any conference at all for that matter.

I have the feeling that people are reluctant to open their purse-strings and spend $100+ on something that they know very little about so have no fear, Victoria is here!

Yep! I’m here to clarify your mind on whether going to a TBEX conference is worth the money that you will undoubtedly, spend.

WHAT IS TBEX?

Travel Blog Exchange - that's us - TBEX Asia!
Travel Blog Exchange – that’s us – TBEX Asia!

Well, TBEX is the holy grail of the travel blogging world and stands for Travel Blog Exchange.

WHAT IS TBEX ALL ABOUT?

TBEX Asia Pacific - one of the largest gatherings in the world!
TBEX Asia Pacific – one of the largest gatherings in the world!

TBEX is the world’s largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, writers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands and social-media-savvy travel industry professionals. There are three (3) conferences held annually in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, attracting 600-1000 delegates from all over the world!

It’s also a medium for the creative minds of the travel industry to come together, to network, to learn, to negotiate with the travel industry, and for those who are so inclined, to take the business of blogging to the next level.

How exciting!

At TBEX Europe with myself - Victoria Ade-Genschow - The British Berliner, Matthew Kepnes – Nomadic Matt, & Jodi Ettenberg – Legal Nomads, in Lloret de Mar – Spain.
At TBEX Europe with myself – Victoria Ade-Genschow – The British Berliner, Matthew Kepnes – Nomadic Matt, & Jodi Ettenberg – Legal Nomads, in Lloret de Mar – Spain.

Last year, I went to the TBEX conference for the very first time.

In previous years, the bloggers conference had been in Dublin (whisky & beer. Yay!) and Athens (ouzo & wine. Double Yay!). Last year it was on the seaside coast of Costa Brava. In Spain.

Paella in Spain is just all you need!
Paella in Spain is just all you need!

Oooooo!

And I spent most of my time crying, as it was a complete and utter disaster!

I love going to Spain and after that horrid experience I needed to go back to Spain again. So I did!

In fact, I went one step further, and travelled to Portugal too!

I'm the Vice-School Principal / Social Media Manager at Logo Sprachenschule!
I’m the Vice-School Principal / Social Media Manager at Logo Sprachenschule!

I had planned to once again go to the TBEX European conference in Sweden, but a window opened up. That window was the fact that I took up a new job for a German company called LOGO Sprachenschule, as the Vice-School Principal responsible for their English-speaking business and their Social Media Management too!

We’re in the process of setting up a new website, but I’ll let you know when it’s done!

So back to TBEX!

I'm going to see everything that there is to see all over the Philippines!
I’m going to see everything that there is to see all over the Philippines!

I didn’t go to the conference in Sweden, but opted to go to the TBEX Asia-Pacific 2016 conference in the Philippines instead!

And this year. It was brilliant!

Every year, TBEX partners with fantastic destinations so that bloggers and media people get the opportunity to meet potential business partners or sponsors, meet influential bloggers, get new strategies and tips, network with each other, discover new destinations, share a new experience and well, be entertained and paaaaaaaarty like it’s 1999!

And party we did!

At the #TBEX Asia Pacfic Oktoberfest Farewell Party, with local Filipinos!
At the #TBEX Asia-Pacific Oktoberfest Farewell Party, with local Filipinos!

Most importantly, TBEX affords participants the opportunity to experience the destination hosted by the country itself!

You see, going to TBEX doesn’t only mean the conference weekend but actually a few days of serious jollification and pre-tours before the conference, and a week of a bit of a jolly, after the conference! In fact, even though the conference officially took place from October 13th – October 16th, many people arrived early, and some people are still in the Philippines NOW – Living the life of Riley!

Party like it's 2016 at TBEX in Manila! ©Vicki Winters
Party like it’s 2016 at TBEX in Manila!
©Vicki Winters

Last year, I wished it had been me.

And this year it was!

BUT WHAT DO YOU DO THERE?

Let's paaaaaarty! TBEX Manila 2016 - ©Kira Ramirez - Elegantly Wasted
Let’s paaaaaarty!
TBEX Manila 2016 –
©Kira Ramirez – Elegantly Wasted

Whatever you want really!

But seriously, there is a conference agenda crammed with pre-BEX tours, workshops, keynote speeches, break-out sessions in Content, Commerce, Community, TBEX Business, Speed Networking, a Closing Keynote about the future of travel by Patricia Schultz – the bestselling author of 1,000 places to see before you die, and fun things like pub crawls, an opening night party, refreshments, lunch, coffee-breaks, a Second Night Party, a Farewell Party, Roof-Top Pool Parties, cocktail bars, meet-me-at-the-front-parties, FAM tours, all great fun, and all included in the price!

During the TBEX conference, I hardly slept at all!

At TBEX Asia-Pacific in Manila - the capital of fun!
At TBEX Asia-Pacific in Manila – the capital of fun!

There were shuttle vans and buses to take bloggers to the conference venue and since, I’m weird and actually like learning new things, I went to quite a few sessions.

I went to:

During the TBEX conference, I hardly slept at all!
During the TBEX conference, I hardly slept at all!
  • Writing like a Human Not a Robot: SEO With Soul (Community) by Michael Briggs
  • You Want Publicity? Use G+ to Reach Millions (Community) by Shane Dallas
  • Practical Ways to Improve your Affiliate Sales (Commerce) by Chris Christensen
  • How to Trend on Twitter (Commerce) by Michael Collins
  • How To Build A Thriving Real Community Around Your Blog & Brand (Community) by Anton Diaz
  • And Speed Networking

I wanted to go to:

Take a photo of me. No meeeee!
Take a photo of me.
No meeeee!
  • How to Improve Your Architectural Photographs (Content) by Ajay Sood. Thankfully, I met him again as he was on my FAM trip too!
  • How to Monetize your Blog with Print on Demand (Commerce) by Betsy & Peter Wuebker. I opted to go to a session conducted by a local Filippino – Anton Diaz instead. And I enjoyed it very much. In fact, the room was packed!
  • How to Creat Eye-Catching Hyperlapse Videos Today Using your Smart Phone (Content) by Scott Herder. I regret missing this the most as I love my iPhone 6 smart phone, and actually prefer using it to a more sophisticated camera! It’s small. It’s in my handbag, and it’s less invasive. I’m a strong believer that you ask your subject before taking their photograph!
I was exhausted and really, really tired. So I nipped off for a nap!
I was exhausted and really, really tired. So I nipped off for a nap!

And I missed it ‘cos by the last day, I was exhausted and really, really tired. So I nipped off for a nap instead! Happily, Scott was on my FAM trip too!

YOU MENTIONED REFRESHMENTS. WOULD WE STARVE?

A customised bubble-tea type drink at #TBEX in Manila!
A customised bubble-tea type drink at #TBEX in Manila!

Ha!

Not in the least! I’m sure people do worry, because food n’ stuff has to go in the budget, but once you’re on the doorstep of the TBEX Convention Center, you wouldn’t have to pay for a single item of nibble!

Exotic fruit at #TBEX in Manila!
Exotic fruit at #TBEX in Manila!

All soft drinks, water and coffee were provided free of charge. Getting a cup of tea was slightly more difficult, but the staff were awesome and ran around making sure that I had a good cuppa. With milk and sugar!

Nibbles at #TBEX in Manila!
Nibbles at #TBEX in Manila!

During the breaks we had tables full of snacks, cake, fruit, nibbles and ice-cream. I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

Colourful Filipino buns at #TBEX in Manila!
Colourful Filipino buns at #TBEX in Manila!

Lunch was amaaaaaaazing, and at one of them, we all had to eat standing. And with our bare hands!

A delightful hands-only lunch at #TBEX in Manila!
A delightful hands-only lunch at #TBEX in Manila!

It was quite hilarious too, as most of the Asian bloggers were using cutlery delicately provided, while we international bloggers all tried our best to use our fingers!

Yum! Mussels at #TBEX in Manila!
Yum! Mussels at #TBEX in Manila!

The food was quite delicious too!

As for drinks, I’m more a cocktails and champagne type of girl so when we went to the Second Night Party at the Long Bar at Raffles Makati, hosted by Travel Massive, I bought the All-You-Can-Drink for four (4) hours ticket, and bought cocktail after cocktail. I also sneaked a few to the local Filippino bloggers as the bar price was beyond their local budget!

A Singapore Sling cocktail - Long Bar at Raffles Makati, hosted by Travel Massive at #TBEX Manila.
A Singapore Sling cocktail – Long Bar at Raffles Makati, hosted by Travel Massive at #TBEX Manila.

And let’s not forget the TBEX Farewell Party which was themed for Oktoberfest.

Yep! Oktoberfest!

German craft beer and festive gingerbread at the #TBEX Asia-Pacific Oktoberfest Farewell Party, in Manila!
German craft beer and festive gingerbread at the #TBEX Asia-Pacific Oktoberfest Farewell Party, in Manila!

Well, this girl didn’t let you down ‘cos there was German food, Filippino food, and Indian food, as well as good ‘ole German craft beer, and German beer on tap!

The service staff even wore the football uniforms of the German 2016 FIFA World Cup winners!

Neat!

WHY TBEX?

Drinking a very important cup of tea! © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
Drinking a very important cup of tea!
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

Why not?

And because blogging can be a lonesome game so it’s pretty nice meeting others.

Hanging out with real people, and people who “understand” why it’s important to position an item just so, before you take a photograph! You should have seen the angles that people were taking with some even standing on the table, in order to get “that photograph” just right.

And everybody completely understood!!

HOW CAN I GO TO TBEX?

One of the major locations for TBEX is in North America!
One of the major locations for TBEX is in North America!

There are three (3) conferences held annually in North America, Asia-Pacific, and Europe. Choose the region that is closest or more appropriate for you. For instance, going to TBEX in America would be pretty useless for me, as many of you are actually from North America, Europe, or the UK, and are more interested in Europe!

Truthfully, I decided to go to the Philippines because I could!

WOULD IT COST ME AN ARM AND A LEG?

You can save up all your pennies, and it wouldn't cost you!
You can save up all your pennies, and it wouldn’t cost you!

‘Not at all!

TBEX Asia (2016) cost me (with a Travel Massive discount) just $125.00!

TBEX Europe (2017) (early bird) cost a mere $117.00!

Of course, you do have to factor in your flight cost.

The cost of flying to the Philippines is effectively cheaper than flying to Sweden!
The cost of flying to the Philippines is effectively cheaper than flying to Sweden!

In my case, I knew that the cost of flying to the Philippines would effectively be cheaper than flying to Sweden as Nordic countries are hideously expensive!

BUT WHAT ABOUT HOTELS?

I stayed at three different hotels in Manila!
I stayed at three different hotels in Manila!

Whilst in Manila, I stayed at three (3) different hotels.

TBEX usually recommends a bevy of hotels which I would definitely check out as they’re usually near the TBEX Convention Center venue, and loads of other bloggers will also be there which is all part of the fun…!

However.

Do your own research as to prices.

I found that my hotel was actually cheaper without the TBEX discount code, and gave me more extras like breakfast and bottles of water!

The Golden Phoenix Hotel in Manila.
The Golden Phoenix Hotel in Manila.

The first hotel I stayed at was the Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila.

There was free WiFi, a buffet breakfast (mainly Asian), a swimming pool, and a fitness center.

The Asian boxed take-away breakfast!
The Asian boxed take-away breakfast!

It was in a really nice area, the staff were great, my room was large, and the twenty (20) or so bloggers that were staying there, were awesome!

Cost: PHP 3,002.52 or €57.00 per day

The Belmont Hotel & Resorts in Manila
The Belmont Hotel & Resorts in Manila

The second hotel that I stayed at was the Belmont Hotel & Resorts.

We were all moved there, so that we could fly out for our FAM trips pretty early in the morning!

Getting ready to fly out on our Visayan Charms FAM trip in the Philippines!
Getting ready to fly out on our Visayan Charms FAM trip in the Philippines!

The night before our FAM trip and the night after our FAM trip were complementary, and I liked the set-up so much that I paid for two extra nights out of pocket!

The Belmont Hotel is very near the airport, and my room was large. And of course, the fact that all the bloggers who had gone on a FAM trip were accommodated there, made it a pretty social place to be.

Now this is what I call a great start!
Now this is what I call a great start!

There were roof-parties, pool parties, and generally, come-to-my-room-we-have-whisky-and-rum-parties!

Sadly, towards the end of my time in Manila, I was horribly ill.

Perhaps, it was due to the very hot weather, the over-indulgence of wonderful food, a few sneaky gulps of whisky, and the intensity of foreign travel in a developing country, I ended up with the trots, so I was very happy to still be in only one place, and one room!

It had to happen. I ended up with the trots!
It had to happen. I ended up with the trots!

The service wasn’t that fantastic as the staff were over-whelmed. It took one hour for someone to come to my room with a pair of scissors, numerous calls for someone to bring me a bar of soap, and an extra towel, and sometimes, it would take ages to get reception on the phone! However, when I was ill, they sent for a doctor, and honestly, I was glad that I was at a more up-market place, than elsewhere!

They had free wifi, a lovely swimming pool, a nice restaurant, breakfast, a lovely view, comfortable beds, and free bottles of water.

Cost: PHP 6,000 for two nights or €57.00 per day. If you booked a room at this first anniversary price, you would get the second night for free.

So that was what I did!

I don't have a picture of the Vieve Hotel in Manila, only the traffc!
I don’t have a picture of the Vieve Hotel in Manila, only the traffc!

The third hotel I stayed at, I would definitely not recommend!

At the end of my stay in Asia, I flew back to Manila for 24 hours and this time, I chose the more humble 3-star Vieve Hotel.

The staff at the Vieve Hotel were nice enough, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you were travelling solo. I wanted to see the more “authentic” Manila, and I certainly did!

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?
Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

To be candid, I was scared.

I didn’t go out that night but stayed in my room, double-locked the door, and jammed a chair behind it!

WHAT DID I LEARN AT TBEX ?

There are many things to learn at such places as TBEX International 2017 in Jerusalem ©Israel21c.org
There are many things to learn at such places as TBEX International 2017 in Jerusalem
©Israel21c.org
  1. Leave plenty of time for trips, tours and meet-ups both before and after the TBEX conference
  2. Use the TBEX recommended hotel list when booking your hotel or B&B, but do your own research for prices
  3. Networking is key to putting a face to a name in the blogging community
  4. Just because you don’t have an appointment, doesn’t mean that you can’t go to the Speed Networking event to meet potential clients
  5. Don’t be afraid or shy to say “hi” to some of our blogging stars or key-speakers who are just as human as we are
  6. Realise that some people might consider you to be a blogging star too!
  7. Make sure that you’re in the right session room….!
  8. Think about your future and where you would like your blogging career to lead to
  9. Don’t be afraid to monetize if that is what you want to do, just be realistic as nobody ever “made it” by blogging alone. There’s a huge amount of hard work behind the facade of “success.”
  10. Think about what your niche market is and if you’re a local destination expert – own it!
  11. Google+ could be the next big thing. Don’t under-estimate it
  12. Don’t spend more than you can afford to lose.
  13. It’s not about the best camera in the world, it’s about you!
  14. Improve your photography
  15. Drink lots & lots of water
  16. Try not be sick
  17. Give back to whatever local community you happen to be in
  18. If you’re tired, take a nap
  19. Be professional
  20. Be appreciative of all the hard work that the host country / region has done
  21. Listen to your readers
  22. Look at what excites YOU
  23. Educate yourself
  24. Get started
  25. Build your audience
  26. Do things your way
  27. Sunglasses can never be too huge!
  28. Have a great time!

ANYTHING ELSE?

The next TBEX Europe Conference is in Ireland. Again! Ho! For the the luck of the lovely Irish!
The next TBEX Europe Conference is in Ireland. Again!
Ho! For the luck of the lovely Irish!

The next TBEX Europe Conference is in Ireland!

I’m going to be there. Are you?

HOW I WENT TO TBEX AGAIN, AND WHAT I LEARNT!

I'm looking gorgeous in the Philippines! ©Scott Herder - BoboandChiChi.com
I’m looking gorgeous in the Philippines!
©Scott Herder – BoboandChiChi.com

This article is not sponsored and even though I was invited on this trip as a guest of the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines and as a member of TBEX, all opinions and the magnificent time that I had, are my very own!

Next week I’ll be writing about Taiwan, and then returning to the Philippines again later!

On November 26th, I’ll be attending the Berlin-Premiere and the 10th anniversary of British musical comedy duo – Carrington Brown at Bar Jeder Vernunft in Berlin.

Save the Date!

November is going to be wind-biting!

Watch this space!

Please also note that there is now a Booking.com affiliate link (for the very first time) connected to my hotel. Every time some sort of accommodation is booked via my link I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself! A win-win for all!

How I went to TBEX again, and what I learnt!
How I went to TBEX again, and what I learnt!

Do you want to be a blogger? Have you ever been to TBEX or a conference of any kind? Is it worth the money? Let me know!

See you in Berlin.

If you like this post or if you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com