How to plan the perfect US roadtrip

September and October are the perfect months for US roadtrips. Here are my recommendations on where to go, what to see and how to plan the perfect roadtrip.

How much time does a great USA roadtrip take?

You should plan at least 2 weeks, the more, the better. From 3 weeks onwards you can consider seeing both coasts when taking some cross country flights. Honestly, it’s all about prioritising given your time and budget constraints. However, you might not appreciate it as much after a while anymore, so keep your roadtripping habits in mind when planning this.

How to save money on a US roadtrip

Just take your 3 best friends with you. Car costs and motel costs will be divided by 4.

Fun fact: our personal record of how many people can sleep in a motel room is 10. We went on a camping weekend and it got colder than expected. 😂🙈

Make sure you choose people who are fun, because you’ll be spending a whole lotta time together. 😉

Get a fuel-efficient car that has also enough space for all your bags. I know Mustang Convertibles look great on pictures but they might not be the most rational choice.

You can consider camping or a camper van to save some extra bucks and avoid packing/unpacking and eating out. Pack accordingly.

Where to go for the best US roadtrip

Personally, go for the wild wild west. Not only are some of the most iconic cities on the west coast (San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas) but also countless stunning national parks (Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley,…)

New York, the New England states, DC and Florida are also worth a roadtrip. I recommend though taking a flight down to Florida. The northern East Coast has a well developed long distance bus system if you’d rather not drive there by yourself.

Perfect US roadtrip Routing

Perfect US roadtripScreen Shot 2018-03-25 at 20.47.58

San Francisco

Fly to SFO, enjoy the city, Lombard St, Union Square, Fisherman’s Wharf,..

if you have time:

  • Painted Ladies
  • Twin Peaks
  • Barker Beach (view on the Golden Gate Bridge)
  • drive, ride over the Golden Gate Bridge or sail a boat underneath and take pictures on the other side
  • enjoy the sunrise from Sausalito,
  • learn sth new on Stanford campus
  • feel the innovation by checking out the Tech headquarters (ride a bike over the Google campus if they let you, Facebook headquarters, Apple,…)
  • see Teslas and homeless in the same street. Extreme rich or extreme poor – does this country really give equal chances no matter in which family you were born into and the ups and downs life had for you. This topic is especially touching for me as I found myself without working credit card or any other cash equivalent there and experienced first hand how being broke and without a place to sleep feels like. Fun fact: I can tell you some tips and tricks about sleeping at airports or in cars. Let me know if you want to hear my tips and tricks how to escape these travel horror stories.

Drive down the coastal highway 1 as much as you can. It takes longer but the view is worth it, especially when approaching Big Sur.

Enjoy the ride along the cliffs until Malibu. Dream of living there while trying to access to mostly private beaches.

LA

LA is huge. For me it was a big disappointment. Hollywood Boulevard is not as shiny as you’d imagine but is also home to the homeless and sex shops. The Hollywood sign is incredibly small and hard to find.  Instead, head over to West Hollywood, e.g. Melrose Avenue (where the typical angel pictures are taken). One of the few areas you enjoy walking around in. Enjoy some nature and hiking in Runyon Canyon. Go to the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel to run into some “Influencers”.

While parking in LA is a nightmare, public transport is not convenient. I tried the subway for a day, but the frequency and network is too little to make the most of your time as a tourist.

Head to Santa Monica Pier for sunset and enjoy the beaches for some muscle building, palm trees and roller blading. The beaches are wide, have a few palm trees, but be aware that the water is colder than you might think.

2-3 days is enough for LA. Unless you have the money to spend in Universal Studios or Disneyland.

I found the beach towns around Santa Ana more enjoyable than LA. If you have time, you can continue south towards So Cal up to San Diego.

If not, fly or drive to Phoenix, Arizona. From there, head north towards the incredible nature in Sedona.

Go hit the gym on the NAU campus in Flagstaff (I am biased because I lived there). Flagstaff like many of the natural parks is situated on the Colorado plateau at 2100m elevation. Get used to the high elevation and get fit there.

Get some cheap college drinks downtown.

Hike in volcano tubes in the middle of the forest.

Go skiing or snowboarding on the Arizona Snowball and enjoy views over the Grand Canyon. Who would have thought that there is snow in Arizona…

watch the stars in the Planetarium where Pluto was discovered. There’s hardly any light pollution around Flagstaff. You’ll see the difference when approaching Vegas.

visit an Indian reservation. Head to Havasupai for turquoise waterfalls.

Then, go to the Grand Canyon. The dimensions will inspire you. The North Rim of the Grand Canyon has fewer crowds than what you see closer to Vegas.

However, my favourite places in the area around Page, AZ are

  • Antelope Canyon (that’s where the calendar photos are taken)
  • Lake Powell for some jetski or boat rental
  • Havasupai Falls. You need to get a permit to hike there. Plan more than a day.

Zion Canyon is also nice for a hike if you have more time left (quite a detour). Angel’s landing is a crazy hike. Deers might greet you at your camp ground.

If you have more time, head to Monument Valley. Or see the ballon festival in New Mexico and check out the music in Santa Fe.

Go camping in the Big Staircase Escalante National Park, but make sure you have enough water, food, fire, camping equipment, warm clothing and bedding, etc. with you. BTW alcohol is not sold in Utah. There is no infrastructure, not even phone signal up there. Sign up at the tourist bureau before you get lost. One of the best cookies ever has been sold at one of the gas stations along the way there.

Then, head to Vegas. There are hot springs just out of Vegas in the mountains. Go hiking, skinny dipping and camping there if you dare.

I had little expectations about Vegas but I loved it.

Get an accommodation centrally on the Las Vegas Strip (with the centre I mean around Bellagio, Caesars Palace). Parking is usually included. We stayed at Travelodge (super cheap with a group of 4, perfect if you dont spend much time there anyway and want to make friends with your neighbors). For the best room ever, I can recommend the Venetian. Rates are cheaper during the week (we payed half price). Caesars Palace is worth to stay at for the pool ( either you sneak in or you actually pay for it).

Get lost in the casinos and shopping malls when walking around the strip. The hotels are really worth seeing themselves. Dress for sightseeing in a way that would get you into a club but also comfortable enough to walk a long way. Dress for the freezing cold AC but also the heat outside. Bring your ID.

Check out some of the best pool parties (seasonally March-October with some of the best DJs worldwide). Get free entrance (and perhaps drinks) to parties by getting numbers of promoters who usually start talking to you at the Bellagio fountains (creepy, I know). Enjoy the fountains especially at night and check the time before waiting for too long.

Clubs we’ve been to: at the Paris Paris hotel on the Eiffel Tower with a view over the Bellagio fountains

Aria (crazy how many free drinks you can get there as a girl in the VIP area)

Or go there for festivals (well this now has a bad taste to it after the shooting)

Don’t miss some shows:

  • Chippendales
  • Britney
  • Cirque du soleil, …

Plan at least 2-3 days for Vegas (cheaper and less crowded during the week unless there are many conferences – yes some business man actually pretend to go there for conferences haha)

Fly back if you’re short on time and money.

Otherwise, do some survival training in death valley. Seriously, if you plan on taking this road, plan ahead.

Yosemite and Sequoia are natural wonders you shouldn’t miss out on.

How to find the best and cheapest car for a US roadtrip

I checked on kayak.com but you can also try to negotiate with a local (like we did in Flagstaff since they knew we were coming back often for weekend trips).

They might offer an upgrade, a waiver of the under-aged fee, free GPS. Make sure to get free mileage, full-full return, and agree on a drop-off location.

BTW did you know that with a German license you don’t need an international driving license? Hooray 🙂

How to plan your US roadtrip

Take the google map above as a base and plan your individual trip. Download offline maps in google just in case even if you got a GPS and paper maps.

Perhaps get a data plan for the US but be aware that there might not be coverage in many natural parks.

Find cheap flights to the US

  • Multi-stop flights kayak.com or flights.google.com
  • Try to use the same airline alliance for best rates
  • Book months in advance, especially when going during the main season (August-October)

Tired of organizing? Book a fly&drive holiday

For example on arke.nl and take accomodation as you go. Just enjoy the moment and stay where you like it the most 🙂

Have fun!

Island-hopping Seychelles

Praslin Seychelles

Backpacking the Seychelles

While island hopping can be more comfortable with a backpack than with a suitcase the typical things back packers enjoy are limited on the islands: cheap eats, cheap accomodation, nightlife. There are hardly any solo travelers and thus no hostels and people to easily bond with. The Seychelles spezialize in luxury tourism to limit the number of tourists so that their biggest treasure – nature and beaches – will be protected.

We chose to visit the three main islands: Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. Our favourite was La Digue as its (almost) bike-only policy gives you this relaxed small tropical island feeling. Our plan was to discover the most we could of the islands and especially stop at some of the most beautiful beaches.

Safety in the Seychelles 

I was asked if it was safe to travel alone as a female in the Seychelles. As the Seychelles are the most developed country in Africa it feels safe. Actually I felt more safe than I do in Europe because there are so few inhabitants on the island that social control is exercised. For example we didn’t have to lock our bikes on La Digue because everybody knows who those bikes belong to. The official travel advice is to not walk alone at night but actually I didn’t have those concerns (you might not want to walk at night because there’s nothing going on anymore but that’s a different story). Just make sure to not get run over by a car when crossing the street as they drive on the left (aka the wrong one) side of the road.

Health in the Seychelles

From a medical point of view, the embassy’s list of sicknesses you could potentially get is pretty long; however malaria is not on there! 🙂 (my doctor only gets to see me for malaria prescriptions and keeping my vaccinations up to date).

The risk of catching Dengue fever and some other mosquito born sicknesses is present, so make sure you’re always covered with mosquito spray.

Always put some sunscreen (30+) on and take your emergency meds. My emergency meds kid includes anything against food poisoning, having a cold, sore throat, desinfection liquid; just typical travel health issues.

However I didn’t need to use any of those and they were also lots of pharmacies around where you could get those if you need. On every island we saw hospitals too.

Getting robbed in the Seychelles

The only uncomfortable situation I had on our arrival day was when I left the security guard alone in the room for one second. I caught him opening my portmonnaie, so I immediately said “what the fuck are you doing”. He made up some excuses but I noticed how he stressed, so I made him open all his pockets and show me everything.p: “Now that pocket”.

I caught him right in the moment so he hadn’t taken anything yet. The situation was awkward for all of us.

Esther said she’d never seen me as strict and determined like that before.

My point is: pay tension to your belongings all the time, don’t give any opportunity and you’ll be fine. Especially your passport and your credit card need to be in a safe place. All the rest can be replaced. Except for that I didn’t have any concerns leaving things unlocked in our room.

Driving in the Seychelles

I recommend getting a rental car on the islands Mahé and Praslin because they’re quite hilly and too big to discover by bike.

The cheaper alternative would be to go by bus. But you might have to wait half an hour here and there. Rental cars cost €50 per day with third-party liability insurance included. If you take a car for 10 or more days the price may go down to 35€ per day.

In the Seychelles one does not drive on the right side of the road. As long as you get an automatic car that shouldn’t be an issue; just make sure you don’t drive too far on the left. Or on the right like I did in the jungle. For the rest of the holiday I was hoping to get my deposit back…

Rental car providers can be found at the airport and in the main towns – sometimes even in your accommodation. One travel hack if you’re island hopping  is to return the car at the ferry terminal or airport. Best is to rent the car the day before you change islands and you don’t have to worry about the transport with your luggage to the ferry terminal from your accommodation. From the ferry terminal in Mahé there’s actually an airport transfer for 10 €.

Diving in the Seychelles 

We went diving and snorkeling three times, that is on every island we visited.

Unexpectedly diving in Praslin was the highlight. At Bobby point ( Bobby not Boobie) we saw a whale shark and at Red Point on Curieuse island I was swimming with dolphins. Fish swarms, turtles and small sharks can be found almost everywhere.

On Mahé there were high waves, visibility was bad and nine out of 12 people left after the first dive/ snorkel.
On La Digue you’ll find underwater rocks and labyrinths.

Cheap eats in the Seychelles

The Seychelles is not an affordable country as it is 1000 km from the mainland and everything has to be imported. Restaurants charge at least €10 per dish and starting from four euros for soft drinks.

Hotels usually come with accommodation only – hardly ever with breakfast, lunch or dinner or all inclusive.

Unless you want to spend big amounts for food, I recommend having a light breakfast with fruit, samosas from a supermarket for the equivalent of $.30 for lunch and for dinner I would recommend Takeaway for three to 5 euros euros.

Fresh fruit juice Seychelles

The best takeaway we found is Mi Mum’s Takeaway on La Digue island close to the ferry terminal. In fact the food was better than at any restaurant we were eating at.

Mi Mum takeaway La Digue Seychelles

I got a funny interpretation of a vegetable pizza that had a mix of frozen vegetables on it. Beans, peas and carrots are  not the typical kind of veggies you’d expect on a pizza; but this veggie mix haunted me all over the islands since  they were hardly any fresh vegetables in the supermarkets and markets.

For European food you might actually want to spend more just to get the quality of ingredients right.

For the best value for money eat local specialities such as fish curries, vegetable curries or meat curries.

Which airlines fly to the Seychelles

Emirates, Etihad, Turkish, Ethiopian, Qatar, Air Seychelles,…

Nice options to combine with a stopover like we did in Dubai on the way to Vietnam in 2015.

We took a direct flight over night with Condor from Frankfurt ( cheapest option). Service on board was disappointing.

Condor foodSeychelles airport SEZ Mahé arrival Frankfurt airport departure

Money in the Seychelles

Get Seychelles Rupies from the ATM upon arrival for smaller expenses. Bigger  expenses can be paid by credit card and in Euros.

How much is it to travel the Seychelles on a budget?

Direct round trip Flight FRA-SEZ over night 700€ (starting from 500€)

Bus 0,50€ per person without changing the bus

Rental car 50€ with third party insurance

Airbnb from 60€ per night ( that is 30€ per person per night 🙂 ) we even got whole apartments with kitchen for that price. Way better value for money than hotels.

Cheapest hotel at the beach with pool (Berjaya Beau Vallon) with semi pension 240€ per night but not worth the money. 1 week packaged holiday incl flight there costs from 1400€.

Four Seasons ( that is where fancy instagrammers stay if the hotel invites them) from 1000€ per night ( “cheaper” in a packaged holiday, i.e. 4000€ per person incl flight from Europe)

Airport transfer to Beau Vallon from 40€ ( bus is 1€ per person but a bit of hustling)

Ferry 

Book on seyferry.com. Some companies need hard copies to not give you those fancy boarding passes

Seychelles ferry Praslin La Digue boarding pass

Mahé- Praslin 47€ per person

Praslin – La Digue 14€

La Digue – Mahé 61€

Airport transfer from ferry to airport on Mahé 10€
Diving 100-120€

Snorkeling 15-30€ or free

Eating out Luxembourgish prices

Restaurant 15€+ per person

Supermarket french prices

Alcohol Scandinavian prices, e.g. local beer 250ml in supermarket 2€, in a restaurant 5€, cocktail 10€, bottle of johnny Walker 35€ in supermarket, 15€ in airport duty free shop.

On a low-medium budget it is possible to travel the Seychelles with a budget of  100-120€ per day. Thinking in relative terms, longer stays will make up for the expensive flight and bring down the daily budget.

Where to celebrate New Year’s Eve

There’s hardly any party of the year for which expectations are that high. NYE is when you wear your new little black dress and expect everything to be perfect. So where should you go in order not to be disappointed?

NYE in Prague

If you’re looking forward to everything being booked out or expensive, yes. Also you should like temperatures below freezing point. Sightseeing will be so much fun in the cold. You will also have to wait in line to get into clubs and pay a fortune to get in. You were not the only one having that idea.

Karlovy Lazne

With 5 dance floors maybe the biggest club in Europe. Be prepared for long lines and higher prices for NYE.

Duplex

Chic rooftop club/ restaurant at Wenceslaw Square. We went there the day before NYE. A bit cheaper and less crowded than for NYE but since the waiting time exceeded 1 hour we went to the Zombie Bar next door for some cheap cocktails. Prague attracts mainly young groups of guys for partying – to an extent that at one point I was the only female on the dance floor. When I asked the security guard if this was a gay club, he didn’t think that was funny…

Klub Lavka

Perfectly situated at the Charles Bridge. Their terrace is perfect for watching the fireworks – even though the fireworks are not nearly as nice as on some promotional pictures. When you’re cold, you can head back inside for oldies, cheap drinks and BBQ or a more formal dinner. Luckily we got last minute tickets.

Lucerna

Music club close to Wenceslaw Square – unfortunately booked out last year.

NYE in Shanghai

After the stampede on the Bund in 2014 there were no fireworks in 2015. For safety reasons several underground stops were closed. I doubt if that helped make hot spots safer. I don’t recommend going to the Bund for NYE to avoid the crowds and chilly temperatures.

Hot spots for NYE in Shanghai are

Bar Rouge and other bars at the Bund for the skyline view

M1NT – our favourite club – for the music, the sharks, the atmosphere, decoration, people, the rooftop terrace,…

Shanghai M1NT new years eve

In Pudong’s skyscrapers in one of the highest bars

NYE in the US

NYE in NYC

Watching the ball drop from Times Square – probably everyone has seen this scene on TV. Christmas shopping in New York, ice skating at Rockefeller Center, what sounds like a dream to many proved to be a nightmare to me.

I spent christmas sleeping at La Guardia airport before picking up my friends from JFK and sleeping at a Hostel at Time Square. The cold was everywhere in NY, the associates shouting at you to get into the bus from the airport, the crowds of people bumping into you on Times Square, at every street corner and in the Apple Store, the temperature below freezing point, sun being blocked by the sky scrapers, Central Park feeling dead, I couldn’t wait to leave this cold city.

NYE in Richmond, Virginia

Instead we decided to spend NYE with friends in Richmond at the Jefferson hotel. You might recognize the stairs from the movie Gone with the wind. While the location reminds you of a prosperous area and a horse carriage stands in front of the hotel, the bar closing at midnight brought us back to reality. Partycrashing a house party of our friend’s friends. Do not expect to party till sunrise in the US, by 2-3am you are kindly reminded to head home. 😉

new years eve richmond virginia jefferson hotel

https://www.instagram.com/p/_AjX4EvKzD/?taken-by=thejeffersonhotel

NYE in Miami

Have you spent NYE in Miami yet? I imagine it to be an awesome beach party. We went there just after NYE.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOufpiZl9FD/?tagged=nyemiami

What I’m dreaming of for NYE

NYE in Europe

Terror warnings, crowds, overpriced fees and drinks and cold temperatures are inhibitors of celebrating in European capitals but the pictures convince me to go there anyway.

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NYE Fireworks in Paris #parisnewyearseve

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#madridnye2016 #puertadelsol #kerryanderic

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In the Alps should be a nice escape. However overcrowded and overpriced for the holidays.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BcXW2fhhdLy/?tagged=kitzb%C3%BChl

New Year’s Eve in Madeira

Funchal holds a guiness world record for their firework. Do I need to say any more?

Well yes, cruise ships full of old Europeans invade this beautiful island over the holidays.

NYE in Sydney

When a picture says more than a thousand words. Watching the fireworks over the harbour bridge, the opera from a boat.

And during day time

NYE in Singapore

Gardens by the Bay, infinity pool – Singapore invites you to spend a hot NYE.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bchm4PAg1IO/?taken-at=485696

 

NYE in Dubai

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#mydubaimycity #dubainye

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In terms of fireworks, Dubai sets new standards. While it is a complete waste of money, it is magical to watch fireworks. I wonder what they will do this year after one skyscraper caught fire when my friends were there.

NYE in Rio de Janeiro

Dancing samba at Copacabana Beach sipping Caipirinha – I know this is cliché, but why not dream of this? Best would be to stay until carnival and explore the rest of the country.

NYE spent with friends – anywhere

Raclette, too strong self-mixed cocktails, your own playlist, poker, sparklers and your own firework. It’s hard to beat NYE spent in great company – anywhere. 

And of course as every year I have nothing booked yet. While waiting until the last minute for the perfect plan for New Year’s Eve, you’ll find out that every overpriced option has already sold out. 😀

Where would you like to go this year? Any recommendations from where you’ve already been?

Hawaii on a budget 

How we afforded to go to Hawaii – so can you!

“Hey, I found cheap flights to Hawaii, should we go?” – That’s what my friend Boudi said. Friday night and a bottle of wine later the madness (PHX – HNL) is booked. And we instantly feel happier.

Cheap flights to Hawaii

How cheap are cheap flights to Hawaii?! Well, it was in November 2013, I don’t remember the exact amount but

  • we had a great exchange rate (1.35 $/€)
  • it was low season in November
  • it must have been about 300€ because I’ve compared it with the travel costs for Abifahrt 😀

But, I made the mistake to not book it earlier. Last minute only works in very low season if they can’t sell their tickets; which is hardly ever these days. It rather gets more expensive. So I’ve hesitated to travel to the end of the world alone; especially because my parents and friends told me not to do so.

Multi-stop flights

So, I booked all my flights to the US in one as a multi-stop package on kayak. Which is awesome value for money.  (1159€ in total for FRA-PHX SNA-LGA RIC-MIA MIA-FRA). Adding Hawaii would have only cost 200€ more back then btw… -.-

Review Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines is the coolest airline I’ve come across so far. They make you sing at the gate, distribute flowers for honeymooners (yes, we thought for a moment about pretending 😀 ) And they serve fresh Hawaiian fruits. Honolulu has such a nice airport with lots of palmtrees around!

Honeymoon in Hawaii ?!

Anyway, many people believed we were just married.. 😀 Even as friends you can only have a good time in Hawaii.

Dangers in Hawaii

Despite flood warnings and stuff.. 😀

Cheap Accommodation in Hawaii

  • We booked the cheapest hotel (which was not bad at all, we got an upgrade to have a balcony with sea view and a kitchen for 100$ per night for the room): http://www.cheapoair.com/FPNextHotel/Hotels/HotelDetail/s/1?FPWEBCA205&EID=40&FPID=240605&HID=202986&T=Hotel%20Name&t=h
  • Had dinner once at a fancy beach-front restaurant (25$)
  • and cheap eats the other times
  • went on a snorkeling / sailing trip with turtles (around 50$)
  • booked a Mustang convertible for a day to explore the more hidden spots of Oahu (maybe 100$ divided by 2 people)
  • went to the Chiquita farm (10$)
  • sneaked into a fancy resort to see a stunning sunset and Hawaiian show by accident
  • some shopping at night (50$)

…and my mom paid more for her trip to Mallorca at the same time

Cheap Flights from Europe to Hawaii

From Europe, regularly check booking sites or:

http://www.urlaubspiraten.de/fluge/hawaii-kracher-hin-und-ruckfluge-nach-honolulu-mit-lufthansa-schon-fur-542-euro_20965

http://www.urlaubspiraten.de/fluge/fluge-nach-hawaii-schon-fur-264-euro-stopover-in-toronto-oder-vancouver-moglich_22116

http://www.urlaubspiraten.de/reisen/hawaii-reise-11-tage-schon-fur-1004-euro-inkl-flugen-unterkunft-mietwagen-maui-oahu-1315-euro_19706

Hawaii FMA

Check out our FMA:

Luxembourg – je t’aime, moi non plus…

imageimageimage

Living in Luxembourg pros and cons

Ech hun dech gär…that’s as close as you can get to saying “i love you” in Luxemburgish. Isn’t that sad? Luckily there are two more official languages to express your romantic feelings!

Correct me if I’m wrong but Luxembourg is the one and only country having three official languages (Luxemburgisch, French and German) and English being widely spoken.

Thanks to big expat and migrant communities, Portuguese, Italian and many other European and also non-European languages are spoken in the streets. Isn’t this unique? You become a polyglot by staying in one place – the heart of Europe! 💙💛

Finding a job? There are just banks and funds?! Luxleaks, fiscal paradise, Panama Papers…?

Amazon, Ferrero, Skype and many others recently declared their European headquarters here. No only for fiscal reasons and low social security charges but also thanks to the multilingual workforce. Wages are high and indexed to inflation. The country has more jobs than active workforce. Therefore many cross-country employees commute every day.

Makes the GDP per capita one of the highest in the world and the traffic jams also the most annoying worldwide.

Having 100,000 people more during lunch break than in the evening or on weekends make the city sometimes a real bore. Why do you all rush home instead of having some afterwork drinks?

Luxembourg has no culture?! Yes it does, afterwork on Wednesday and Thursday – but only on a sunny day. Where else in the world would you pay 5€ for a small beer to drink on the street? And yes this is both legal and socially accepted here! 😏😎✌🏿️

imageimageimageimageOctober to April are dark winter months with zero sunshine. Not only is there a lack of sunshine but also no blue skies, wet cold, rain, strong winds that will make you freeze to death and hate this place. Thats why we all migrate to southern Europe. Or at least dream of a sunnier place to be. This place reliably triggers my #wanderlust

Spring and summer however are incredibly picturesque!

If you’re allergic, better stay inside, those beautiful blossoms have some side effects.. 😝🙈🌸

The architecture is just stunning! From french sandstone villas on Avenue de la liberte to modern steel- glass office buildings on Kirchberg – the eye and camera lense has much to capture. And then the city mixes with parcs in its middle to have a green silent heart surrounded by its hectic loud life..

imageimageimageimageimage

 

Go check out the Luxemburgish Switzerland and beautiful castles in the North!

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Nightlife.. Well Luxi with you ridiculous prices you have become my rehab. Let’s better predrink with friends at my place and not pay your silly 15€ for a cocktail. Wages are not that high either!😈 🙀😿

And then you shouldn’t get too wasted either. Chances are high to run into your boss at a party. Or anyone you’ve ever met here. Byebye anonymous life! Socialize!

Lux is the cheapest country to study? Well cost of living is high but:

  • student accomodations are subsidized
  • tuition fees low
  • alcohol, cigarettes and gas cheap ( #tanktourismus)
  • you can go grocery shopping in Germany
  • No charges for medical insurance (those savings actually pay my rent) …

Construction

Right now, one can’t take any photos without cranes and construction sites. Sorry tourists from Far East for all the #Kranplatz …

What do you love and hate about Luxembourg? Or have you never been there? Leave me a comment 😉

what I hate and love about Luxembourg – living in Luxembourg blog – luxembourg travel blog – moving to luxembourg – a bit of lux – luxembourg bloggers – bloggers-LU

expats in Luxembourg

student in Luxembourg

How the hell do you afford to travel so damn much?!

If you want to travel more, make travelling your priority!

Social media shows a distorted reflection of real life:

….all you see is free time but you never see people posting about their work (some complaints about studying maybe 😉 …). There are studies showing how unhappy social media makes you from this adverse perception of other people’s lives btw.

 

Personally, what I didn’t post is:

  • that I always worked during semester holidays for my internships or student jobs
  • that I took on 3 jobs during my 1st semester of the Master This was a mess! Working full-time and full-time studies did not work for me. The good thing about having zero leisure time is that you do not have time to spend your money either. 😀 So, I just kept the freelance work, i.e. keep the best paid jobs with the most flexible timing. Connect with me on Linkedinfor more info on my jobs 😉

 

This all falls under the aspect of “Gain more“. This is only half of the story:

 

Gain more – spend less

 

Spend less

Pre travelling:

  1. Track your spending, e.g. with Excel spreadsheets, apps or your bank’s budgeting tool
  2. Take less money with you; feeling broke makes you spend less
  3. save on your monthly rent (especially in your younger years this is probably your biggest expense)
  4. avoid subscriptions (phone, fitness, music, newspaper etc. adds up considerably and most of them you cannot quit right away)
  5. avoid foreign exchange rate charges by changing money with your bank or get a credit card with low fees, e.g. comdirect
  6. do not pay for your bank account and bank cards, there are so many free offers
  7. check and change your insurances every year before November. Sometimes you do not even need to change, just tell them you intend to because you have found this cheaper offer, and your agent will probably make you the same offer
  8. do not subscribe to a phone contract that you cannot afford (40€/month compared to a 10€ SIM card a month makes savings of 360€ a year)
  9. avoid overpriced sweets and drinks (Starbucks). Drinking water is not only healthier and keeps you in shape, but it also saves you tons of money. A coffee at Starbucks is roughly 10 times more expensive than when you cook one yourself.
  10. Put money aside: save all your change or all coins or a fixed amount a month
  11. Go on a shopping diet for one season: I did that in France to save for the USA. But I still went to (online) shops to see what I liked. Not only did this shape my style, it also helped me evaluate if I really missed anything.
  12. Go shopping less often: for me this came automatically after the shopping diet. Shopping, especially on Saturdays takes so much time and it is pure stress with all the people in your way and the noise.
  13. Buy what you need not what you want: a shopping diet is the best way to figure out what you actually need. Write a list of which items you are missing
  14. Buy just what you like 100% and that makes you feel fabulous: when in doubt take your best gay friend and watch his reaction when you come out of the changing room 😉
  15. Meal planning and cooking vs. eating out: a rice prepared by yourself costs 0.5€ compared to 7€ at the Iranian place in the city center of Luxembourg. Pasta costs 1€ compared to 12€ in a restaurant. A sandwich costs 1€ compared to 4.5€. A salad 0.5 – 2€ compared to 8-12€… Should I go on? 😉 Use the saved amounts to spoil yourself with something great once in a while. ;-)The only exception for this is if you live in China or Thailand and eating out is actually cheaper and more convenient.
  16. Free your stuff. Go through all your belongings and ask yourself: “For how long haven’t I used this? Do I really need this”. Then sort it into: Keep, sell or give away. In doubt, ask your best friend to look through your “Keep” items. My best friend has a lot of fun criticizing what I’d like to keep. 😛 Helps a lot to get rid of what you don’t need. Then try to sell your stuff once; the leftovers and the “give away” stuff goes to charity.
  17. Bring less stuff. Cheaper to travel with less luggage and you have more space to bring something back for your loved ones.
  18. Drink less Alcohol. How easily do you spend a fortune on a night out? Drink more before at your friend’s place or drink less in general. 😉

 

While planning your trip:

  1. Find cheap offers (urlaubspiraten.de, holidaypirates.com, urlausbguru.de)
  2. travel during low season (Jan-May, Oct- Mid Dec excluding school holidays and public holidays)
  3. find the best prices, e.g. on kayak.com for fixed dates and destinations, compare flights and multi-stop flights; skyscanner.com if you’re very flexible regarding time and destination
  4. do not hesitate to book when your dates are fixed
  5. be spontaneous and do not hesitate when finding last-minute offers
  6. compare a package holiday with buying flights and accommodation separately (depending on your preferences)

 

During your trip:

take your friends with you: it’s not only more fun, but you can also share expenses.

Accommodation:

  1. Take your friends (best to take the max possible per room and car)
  2. Check your preferences for price, luxury and location
  3. Compare prices and other characteristics of hostels and regular hotel rooms (wifi, parking, location, breakfast,…). There is no rule which accommodation is better per se.

 

Transportation

  1. Use public transport. Busses, long-distance busses, trains, trams,..
  2. Use Uber instead of taxis
  3. Ask strangers at the airport to share a taxi; we met Cili from Chile this way and spent even more time with her afterwards exploring Ho Chi Minh City
  4. Use or even better offer ride shares, with the later option you might even earn money regarding low gas prices at the moment. BTW this way I had free trips to Switzerland and Amsterdam using blablacar.com)
  5. Rent a car: reserve online or negotiate well to get good prices. Optimal: fill up all the seats.
  6. Rent a scooter/motor bike: always fun and a bit crazy if you’re alone or “just the two of us”

What’s your excuse for not travelling now? 😛

 

 

Shanghai’s nightlife – party every damn day?!

Vegas is the best place to party ?!- what if I tell you a secret…

Shanghai by night is better!

Am I the one to judge? I guess so, one of my top three rules for Shanghai was to see every club. I tried hard, I even wrote this list after I forgot I had already been to one club before.. 😀

Clubs/bars been to
7th floor
Luce
Myst
M2
Mint
Modu
Diva
Fusion
Bar Rouge
Lotus
Unico
Propaganda
La Bamba
Café des stagiaires
Perry’s
Muse
Beer festival
The apartment
The Shelter
Cirque le soir
Windows
Lola
M on the Bund
Linx

My favourite: M1NT Shanghai

IMG_7506

We tried hard and failed. There are way too many clubs to see and we ended up going to our favourite ones anyway:

  • Wednesday after Chinese Class to Model’s Night at Mint
  • Thursday in Summer to Ladies Night at Bar Rouge
  • Saturday at Mint again

And when we were very motivated also Tuesday Ladies Night at M2 or at Modu and Friday something new.

What makes Shanghai’s nightlife so awesome?

  1. Free entrance (yes, also for guys!)
  2. Free vestiaire
  3. Free drinks! (yes, not only for girls!)
  4. every day
  5. free entrance to DJs (Fedde le Grand)
  6. free strippers (forget Saumur!)
  7. cheap taxi rides home (max 70 RMB/10€ for 10km)

How does this work?

Well, over time you’ll get to know some promotors who will send you a daily summary of the best parties and they are paid for getting you in for free and giving you free drinks. :O

Chinese clubs are full of tables where Chinese sit down to loud music to order expensive bottles. Foreigners are cross-subventioned for partying hard on the dance floor, because that’s apparently what makes clubs fancy. I have some doubts about that revenue model and ethics though…

Beijing is kind of the same – with most clubs in the street next to Worker’s Stadium:

So, maybe next time:

Mook
Phebe Light à côté
Maya
Playboy
Mansion
S2
Logo
Zlounge
Dada underground group
Nest
Yonkong lu (Straße von café des stagiares)
Les barons….

Do you now understand why Luxembourg feels like a rehab to me? 😉

Last but not least:

“Can we take a selfie? What’s your wechat?” 😀IMG_8540

 

Ladyboys, Buckets, Thai massage and Sunshine?!

After 5 months in China it feels so unreal leaving to a different country. On a X2 (1 semester) student visa, you usually only get 1 entry; i.e. if you want to leave the country you either need to apply and pay and go through the annoying process to get a residence permit (which I did) or get a new visa.

So on 23/01 I’m leaving snowy Shanghai. (It never snows there! ok, maybe once since they recorded the weather). Taking an early morning flight usually means partying the night before, packing with a hangover (and there’s a lot to pack after 6 months although I only took a backpack.. 😀 ) and then at 4am you’re desperately waiting for a taxi with a 20kg backpack on your back, 2 hand bags, my blanket around my neck, my umbrella somewhere,… 😀

From 0 degrees to 40 degress

Thai Airways had a beautiful plane with pink seats and yummy food. Some hours later, I get out of the plane – boom! into a wall of humid heat – humid 40 degrees! For a moment I feel like I’m about to fall unconscious…  I’m walking out in boots and my black lace dress. Guess it was cold where I came from (Sibiria) and it didn’t fit into the bag.. 😉

No more Chinese people

Again I was the only western girl in the plane but this time i didn’t even notice anymore. I just noticed in the airport that I’m not used to seeing so many white people anymore. 😀 Yet this typical ugly tourist style is something I didn’t miss at all. As if the worst dressed people were assembled in one place.

So many gays! There are hardly any openly gay people in China… :/

First thing the middle eastern guys do, is to smoke in the designated smoking rooms (how can you even breath in there) and pray in the praying rooms. Probably in this order, if time allows ;)Could have also been Bahrain or Muscat airport.

Those Thai people! Could they be any cuter? Always smiling and bowing down. And suddenly I realize for my connecting flight all economy passenger have lounge access.Whaaaaaaaat i got a lounge to wait?! :)))

FREE INTERNET

Wow! I can access instagram, facebook, etc. without VPN!
And it is so fast! The addiction is back!

People speak english 🙂

Funny accent 🙂
From talking normal speed with my international friends to slow-mo again, but hey we can express ourselves and understand our counterpart 🙂

I still think in chinese though.. No more blocked to speak it, which is weird because that never happened when I needed it the most.

Before boarding the next plane to Samui, I try some free Thai food 🙂 yummy!

Of course the flipflops are in the checked bag… 😀 So wearing beach wear with boots 😂 At the gate people stare at my weird style, but hey, most of them are also heading to the Full Moon Party, so who cares? Now, that I no longer have wifi, I look around..

Beauties

Oh wow! Look at this beauty! Russian anthrogyne type, perfectly shaped legs, no fat, nothing. This perfect face with high cheekbones. I try not to stare. Nice boobs, but hey wait, they’re fake. 😛 Just like the boobs next to her, oh and there also. Damn all these people are so tanned, look at me! 😀

Oh see, I was right, a group of Argentinians is also going to the Full Moon Party. Anyway, let’s take a nap on the way to Samui before the party (remember never sleep before a long distance flight 😛 )

Koh Samui has such a cute airport:

Arriving there immediately gives you the vacation feeling. Until you wait for one hour in the humid heat for your backpack just to be told they put it somewhere else.. 😀 and yes, look at my blanket, walking around in Macklemore style.. 😀IMG_8900

Off to the Full Moon Party

Finally back with Jasmine again, dropping the bag off, eating something and off to Koh Phangan for the party… The way there by shuttle and speed boat is something I’d like to forget about… Sooner or later we’re there, and guess what, we run into the Argentinians. So, let’s get some color, try to decorate ourselves and write #dengmamm on one’s arm. 😀 😀 😀 A few minutes later we lose them forever in the crowd.

Anyway, it’s much easier to party like that. We get a bucket of vodka whatever and check out the location. Oh and yes, I get the Rolling Stones tongue painted on my belly. Sooner or later after the rave we sit down on the beach, watching the full moon. Could have been quite romantic, if you weren’t also watching one guy after another pissing into the sea… Feeling “Penisneid” and disgust at the same time, that guy turns around and comes talk to us. Please don’t do this! My best friend and I are d’accord about some basic things: please shut the bathroom door, please wash your hands or please at least pretend you have some manners. Puh, he’s leaving again! Finally silence. Oh wait, no another drunk one starting some random smalltalk. Bla bla bla. Can’t we just sit here and chill? Oh next ones… they seem to be quite nice, so let’s party. Sooner or later we try to find the pier (walking, by taxi, walking) to go back to Samui. Don’t know how but I managed to fall asleep in that crazy taxi ride and in the bumpy speed boat when I was afraid to die. Asia got me used to it I guess. At sunrise, we’re back, now let’s explore the island!

Rainy days never say goodbye

imageimageimageimageimageIMG_8984IMG_8998IMG_9105IMG_8996IMG_8941IMG_9049IMG_9034IMG_9033It shouldn’t rain there in January, but hey, we made the most of it! And Jasmine’s dad showed us the best spots.

Sun and sunburn

And then for the last few days sun comes, so does my sunburn from crazy scooter driving. Oh btw an asymmetrical backpack gives you such a weird sunburn pattern.. 😀 A picture says more than 1000 words:IMG_9172IMG_9146imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageNikki Beach Koh Samui is hard to find but well worth a visit and much more affordable than its European pendants. This last day makes it even harder to leave.

So the very last day, we go elephant trekking. I somehow lock the bathroom door just to ask a stranger to break into it later on 😀

Deep Thai Massage

And as a goodbye I treat myself with the most Thai thing I could think of – A deep Thai massage with coconut oil at the beach for only 400 THB (10€). A cute Thai girl does a great job – just the right amount of pressure, I almost fall asleep until she asks me to turn around. Trying to open my eyes, I wonder if I’m still massaged by the same one. Oh, there’s something weird about her face, her nose maybe, unlucky plastic surgery. Oh wait!!! A ladyboy?! How could I know? Body? hmm loose clothing! Hands? Tiny, just like Thai hands.. Oh wait the arms! Muscular! Oh yeah, this is a ladyboy! By then, I think (s)he knew I knew, trying not to stare at him/her while (s)he does this weird stretches with my legs. The massage is pretty awesome – the best of both worlds as they like to say. 😉 But again, no happy ending offered. Is this just because I’m female, you sexists? 😉 😀

So, this was the end of my short adventure vacation with lovely Jasmine in T-hailand except for an unspectacular night in Bangkok. Oh and btw the very first beauty was also a ladyboy. (S)he and her friend exchanged money and the voice made it pretty clear. So yeah, the stereotypes are more true than I imagined but hey, this country is so worth a trip! Just look at this foodporn:

Where the hell is Michelle…?!

Where the hell is Michelle?

Short answer: Luxembourg.

Why #wherethehellismichelle?

My #1 FAQ (#2 being when do you come back, #3 when do i see you again) makes me realize what great friends I have. 😍😘
Fellow travellers also ask the where question: “where are you from?” to start random smalltalk.
Hence, the hashtag.

Long answer:

Started writing this in a plane flying from Shanghai to Guilin. Finishing it in Luxembourg. Jaja, procrastination 🙈

I spend more time on the road than in my hometown. Therefore I often take the wrong way in one way streets although I’m in a car with a local license plate… 🙈😂
Unfortunately I don’t spend enough time with old friends and family but I’m working on it. 😉💪

“Can you imagine living abroad?”, asked my german teacher just before graduation.
“Maybe”, that’s what most of us said, including me.

Turns out since graduating highschool I’ve always lived abroad. 5 countries in 5 years: Germany – Luxembourg – France – USA – China.

Apart from that my travel addiction started in the US. My well-travelled friends there inspired me and in the end we went on roadtrips almost every weekend.

Now, 2 years later it’s all about travelling. All the money I’m saving, the job I’m choosing, day offs, exam planning,… – it just comes down to how this will allow me to travel.

And suddenly I went to more Countries in 2015 than in my whole life before. The new one’s were: UAE, Viet Nam, San Marino, Oman, Tanzania, Israel, Ethiopia, China with Hong Kong and Macao.

Get ready for some reviews, and how I have the time and money for all this… 😝✌🏿️