Blog : Travel

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home Are you living abroad, planning a long trip, going to college or just looking to keep the ‘stuff’ you have to a minimum? Well, you have come to the right place!
Because today I am partnering with Tivoli Audio to bring you Five Tips on how to make a new or temporary home feel like home. You can find more information about their product in one of my steps below. (Trust me: you will like it!)

I have been staying in Berlin for a while now after getting rid of almost all of my stuff. Which means that I moved here with one suitcase (+ a backpack with my favourite dresses). And even though I am planning to keep my possessions to a very minimum while staying here, I did purchase and make a few things to create a ‘home’ for myself.
It is very hard to explain the definition of home when it comes to how you feel about it. I guess I am one of those people that can feel at home pretty fast, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that helped me get there. So here are 5 things that helped me settle in my new temporary apartment. (besides family, friends, etc. of course, because that’s a given)

Scroll through this article or jump to a favourite topic within this post:

Unpack that suitcase
Items to practice the things you love
Plants
Music
Inexpensive Decorations


UNPACK THAT SUITCASE

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

Whether you are staying for a few days or a few months, if a homey feeling is what you are looking for then unpack that suitcase on the first day.

Organising a room or house and placing my items in it gave me a feeling that I recognised. Like doing laundry or making your bed, ( I am not saying that they are fun activities;) these are things that you do at home. And I think that getting a rhythm and finding your belongings on shelves and in cupboards will help you acclimatise to the new space.

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

My temporary apartment came with a few basic furniture pieces: a sofa, a bed, open cupboard and this clothes rack. This made it easy for me to unpack, since the rooms had a place to hang and place everything. But I think that if especially the clothes rack wouldn’t have been there, I would have bought one. They are very affordable at Ikea and it is something that you can take with you to a new home, or give to someone else that needs it afterwards.


ITEMS TO PRACTICE THE THINGS THAT YOU LOVE

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

Having limited space in a suitcase can be very tricky when you have to decide what to bring. Or even when you are moving to a new home, you will probably want to get rid of things to make room.

I actually made a list when moving to Berlin starting with the things I use the most in my daily life. After having made that list I categorised it by size, putting my dishwasher at the very top;)
Now, of course I couldn’t bring my dishwasher with me, that was a pretty obvious one. Put after the dishwasher came my sewing machine. And that is when things got tricky.

I knew I needed it for this blog, and other projects. But it would fill up almost 1/3 of my suitcase. I had to decide between taking it with me or leaving it behind and buying or renting a new one..
In the end I took it with me and I am so happy that I did! I use it so often and it really was worth bringing a few less dresses with me.

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

For me, my sewing machine was the hardest choice when it came to packing my suitcase. But I am sure that you have a relatable item that might not fit into your suitcase-schedule. Like a guitar, a yoga mat, etc. All of these things are not necessary to live abroad and you probably won’t need them like you need a warm coat.
But to feel like home, you have to be able to get to do the things that you love the most. For me this is making projects on my sewing machine and doing Yoga with Adriene on a daily basis.


PLANTS

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

One of the first things that I did when moving into this apartment was buy basic items that I needed that the apartment didn’t have (pillow, pan, etc.) and get a plant.

The apartment was so empty and all of the walls are white, which I think is perfect for now. But it just needed colour and life. Soon after that I collaborated with the Joy of Plants and more plants filled my living room. And I noticed how nice it felt to have them around.

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

The good thing about getting plants for a home that you know you will have to leave, you just know that there will always be someone to happily keep your plants afterwards. They are not a wasteful thing, you can give them away and make someone else happy with them.
The only problem I had with getting plants was the cost of flowerpots and planters. So I decided to make them myself or restyle the cheapest one I could find at Ikea (which is a new DIY project for the blog!)


MUSIC

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

One of the few luxuries I allow myself to have is my Spotify account. I use it every day and I don’t go on my bike without listening to my favourite playlists.

Music has always had a big impact on me, I can relive entire moments by hearing a song. This makes having music around me crucial to achieve a sense of ‘home’.

But at home I use my laptop to play my music and I always miss the sound system that I had in my previous home (which didn’t make the cut during the suitcase-packing-lists)

Until now! I am so happy with this collaboration, because Tivoli Audio turns out to have the perfect solution for this: a speaker that works through Wifi or bluetooth and can be activated through a very easy to use app on your phone.
This means that I can listen to my Spotify playlists and favourites cd’s on an actual good sounding speaker without having to plug my phone or laptop in.

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

So now, when I am sewing away, taking photos at home or even try to cook (yes, I am the worst chef in the world, which is why you can see me slicing bread in the picture below and not making a fancy meal;) I can keep listening to my music through the speaker, without having to walk around the house with my laptop.

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

The speaker that you see in the pictures is the ART cube and the reason why I choose this one, is because its size is perfect for my suitcase/nomadic lifestyle. I can easily bring this with me to my next home! And if I decide to settle for a long-term home, I can get a few more and slowly build an entire home system. (sound goals!)

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

I am already so happy with this addition to my sense of home, that at first I overlooked how great it actually looks! It would be a really nice (holiday) gift to give to someone that is about to go to college or also stay in a temporary home, but honestly I think I will just keep this one for myself;)

If you would like to know more sign up for the Tivoli Audio emails and get a 10% discount on your own speakers which are available around the world and online.
Which one would you choose?! Let me know in the comment section below!


INEXPENSIVE DECORATIONS

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home

And last but certainly not least, my favourite way to make a place feel like home, is to fill it with decorative projects!

When you move into a temporary home, the chances are that you are living in a home that has been decorated by someone else. There might be some of your stuff there but you probably won’t bother to paint the walls or replace the curtains. Which means that you are staying in someone else ‘style and taste’.

You can be lucky and have a blank canvas or unlucky and live in a house that has been covered in pink paint (although now that I am writing this, it also sounds pretty cool to have a pink house!)
You won’t be able to do a full before/after on your temporary home, but there are a few things that you can do to adjust it to your taste:

– Remove and store any items that you don’t need and don’t like to look at (I put the giant old skool tv that came with my apartment in the closet)
– Rearrange the furniture to your liking.
– Hang things up on the wall. If you can use nails, great! If not, use washi tape.
– Buy candles in your favourite scent and light them at night.
– Add accessories that you might not need, but will add charm to the room. These don’t have to be things that are expensive. I made this Paper crane mobile in my bedroom (see pic above).
-Add plants to your rooms. You can even go vertical will my wall planter project(see pic below).

 

LIVING ABROAD | How to Make Your Temporary Home Feel Like Home


 

And that is it for now! Since I haven’t been living like this for long, I am also still learning and finding new ways to feel like ‘home’.
Do you have any special things or rituals that help in this situation? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email! x Lana

 


 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tivoli Audio. All opinions are 100% mine.

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TRAVEL | BERLIN GUIDE

TRAVEL | Berlin Guide

 

Today I am introducing a new page on the LRS blog:

A Berlin travel guide page!

Since I moved to Berlin last March, I have been exploring this wonderful city every day. Wether I am biking around, sipping coffee or shopping for supplies, this city keeps surprising me in it’s size and atmosphere.

New places keep popping up everywhere and I wonder if I even ever get the chance to see and admire everything in my own neighbourhood, let alone the entire city! Which is why I started marking shops and locations in a private map on my phone. This way I could revisit some of my favourite areas.

And from today on I am sharing this Berlin Guide map with you!

↓ The story continues below ↓

TRAVEL | Berlin Guide

I started this map to remember where my favourite markets are and soon after that, it grew with other locations such as, coffee places and secondhand stores.



I also had a hard time finding (coffee)places that would allow me to use their wifi and work on my laptop. In New York this is pretty much anywhere, but here in Berlin it sometimes feels a bit ‘frowned upon’ to do. So I was very happy to discover a few in my neighbourhood.


 

Since there are already so many great travel guides online I try to keep mine short and to the point. I also tend to remove places I stop visiting and add new favourites. This really is my personal Berlin guide, which I hope might help you if you are searching for something particular.

For each location, store, market, etc. I wrote a short description helping you to get a feel of the place.

Did I make you excited for your next Berlin trip yet? Or are you curious to see if we visit the same places in Berlin?

Simply click on the BERLIN page in the top bar when you visit the LRS blog. But for now you can simply click here :)

 

 

TRAVEL | Berlin Guide

 

The Berlin guide page will be updated frequently since I am still discovering new sites on a daily basis. And as you will probably notice, I tend to stick to my own neighbourhood a lot. But hopefully I can extend that in the future.

I am also very curious to your favourite spots, so please contact me or drop a line in the comment section below to share your Berlin tips!

PERSONAL | Berlin Update

BERLIN | Update

I know it’s a cliché, but time really goes by so fast! It has been 4 months since I moved to Berlin! Yes, 4 months!  So many things have happened and at the same time, I also did a lot of nothing:) 1  ← New to footnotes? Open these.


Quick side note: Why am I writing this?
Since I last sold and gave away almost all of my belongings 2 (except for my dresses obviously) I moved out of my house and went to Berlin. I have no idea what my plans are, where I will be living next year and even if this is a good idea. But it feels right to make this big change.
There are three reasons why I am writing this:
1 – To entertain – who doesn’t love a peek into someone else’s life
2 – To inspire – when reading this, maybe you can join me and start an adventure and join my scary-but-fun way of living
3 – To inform – See it as if I am paving the way for your next journey. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes in the future ;)


 

So let’s start where we left off since my last update.

Or jump to a favourite topic within this post:

– House + Cat = home?
– German Course
– Daily life
– Creative Berlin
– Staying Realistic
– Random Events

House + Cat = home?

I am currently in my second Berlin home. The first one was a very temporary one and I stayed there for about 2.5 months. It was in a neighbourhood called Kreuzberg. It was a wonderful apartment but it belonged to someone else, so we 3 were living in a furnished apartment with lot’s of other peoples stuff. Making it mentally not a true ‘home’.

My current home is in Neukölln, a neighbourhood that I absolutely love.
Here is a stylish Berlin map made by moi, so that you can have a visual of what I am talking about. ↓

BERLIN | Map

As you can see, the two neighbourhoods that I have been staying in are right next to each other. The Neukölln area is pretty big, and I am staying at the top part. 4 Kreuzberg is currently a very popular area and even though I liked it, it has started to get a little bit too popular (aka expensive) for my taste to live. So moving from there to Neukölln was perfect, since a lot of parts still have that ‘raw’ Berlin feeling.

I mainly move around by bike, which I brought with me from The Netherlands. Although Berlin is very big, it is very doable by bike. And I take the subway for longer distance (or lazy days)

BERLIN | Update
Berlin Subway
BERLIN | Update
My Neukölln home

My current home is a nice two bedroom apartment. We can stay here until at least September, and maybe longer. It has a small balcony and a communal garden (which is perfect for the cats)

I noticed as soon as I moved into this apartment, that even though it is a temporary house in a (for me) temporary neighbourhood, I am very much a creature of habit. I have been starting to make this place feel more like home, by decorating and moving around the very limited furniture that is here. So ‘nomad’ style? Not really, I already bought stuff I really don’t need simply to ‘prettify’ my house 5

Anyway, besides decorating I have also made lots of strolls and evening walks around the neighbourhood to get to know the area. It is amazing how many simple things you take for granted when living in a place for many years, like:
– Knowing your way around your local grocery store
– Hearing sounds and noises and being able to place them
– Finding your way back home ( I got lost many times, when I was actually only 5 minutes from my house)



German Course

So, ok, I moved to Berlin. And what happened next?
The first thing I did was take an intensive German course. I could not speak a single word of German 6 , and while I was still figuring the city out I thought it might be good to speak some of the language.
The course was 5 days a week for about 4,5 hours a day + homework. I started with one month and extended it with another month.
It was hard, I mean really hard. I always had trouble learning languages and the grammar part was killing me. But after a while you get the hang of it and you start to recognise sounds. It is also a good place to interact with other people. Moving to a new city means you don’t know anyone and it can sometimes be (big understatement, it can be very) lonely.

And am I fluent in German now? Ha! I wish! I went from being one step away of learning the alphabet all over again to being able to order things and recognise a few words when someone talks very fast to me at the grocery store. But at least it’s a start and I do notice that it gradually gets better.

BERLIN | Update
German Course

For more info on my German course, I took mine at the Sprachenatelier in Friedrichshain. But there are also others that have great reviews. I do advice to check the pricing when looking for a course, because they vary extremely.


Daily life

Besides going to language school every day, I mainly walked around, biked around, hung in Parks, and ate lot’s of cake. I know: terrible ;)
I took it extremely slow. I told myself to find an extra job to help paying my bills (this blog unfortunately doesn’t do that completely) but instead I did all of the above. I am not sure if that was a good thing, but I don’t know if I could have done it differently even if I wanted to. For some reason I couldn’t focus on main issues and was extremely in the moment. The language course gave me a routine, but other than that I just did whatever felt good. wether that was going to a park, do some sightseeing or staying inside and watching a movie or reading a book.

BERLIN | Update BERLIN | Update

I tried to put as little pressure on myself to ‘see it all’. I had read many things online on people flying through cities, going from one event to the next, trying to experience as much of Berlin as possible. That is just not how it works for me. To me, discovering a new city is knowing my way back home by bike, discovering the best park to sit in the sun and finding the best craft stores and markets to do what I like best: make things.

Which brings me to my next chapter (yes, this is starting to feel like writing a book)


Creative Berlin

Besides hanging out in parks and eating cake, I also had some jobs. Mainly collaborations for this blog and a few fun small photography assignments.
Having the collaborations meant that I had to find the best markets, second hand stores and craft stores to find the right and affordable items. I think that this was the most fun in Berlin so far!

Riding my bike through the city shopping for supplies, it was great!

BERLIN | Update
Flea market
BERLIN | Update
Photography assignment for Das Mag Festival


Staying Realistic

What else can I tell you about my recent adventures? It has been a strange time, great but sometimes also difficult. The reason that I am saying this is because I don’t want to give a false impression on how this kind of lifestyle is. It is great to be optimistic and I truly applaud everyone that has written fun and positive stories of travelling and living a nomadic lifestyle. But it’s also good to stay realistic every once in a while. Living this way comes with a lot of uncertainties: where will I live next? How will I find a job when I don’t have a permanent home? Which cake should I eat today? I am just kidding with that last one obviously (or am I? ;)

I think it’s a balancing act to stay positive and realistic. Weighing the insecurities against the quality of life. And asking yourself the right questions: Are the insecurities clouding my joyful moments? Am I happier living like this versus having the security of a steady home and job? Will I regret it if everything goes back to ‘normal’?

Luckily all of the answers to my ‘realistic question list’ are still pretty much the same as when I moved here. And I must say that the Berlin summer is also a BIG factor into why it all feels right. The weather is great and the city is just alive 24/7. We have been eating on terraces multiple times a week for 2 months now 7 .

BERLIN | Update
The view along my bike route to the Language course


Random Events

Last but not least here are some random things that I did since I was here:
– Visit a few abandoned buildings 8
– Get a new tattoo!! (I covered the old tattoo on my back with a new design. It was a huge step and I am extremely excited to show you the end result. I will dedicate a blogpost to it as soon as it’s healed)
– Host friends and family
– Get a museumpass and visit museums
– Eat cake (or did I mention this already about 5 times?)

And that is the end of my way too detailed Berlin update. Here are a few random photos to celebrate ↓

BERLIN | Update
Getting my coverup tattoo. EXCITING! More about this on the blog very soon!
BERLIN | Update
Abandoned swimming pool ‘Blub’
BERLIN | Update
Home Office
BERLIN | Update
On the left – Abandoned Children’s Hospital

BERLIN | Update BERLIN | Update BERLIN | Update BERLIN | Update BERLIN | Update
BERLIN | Update

 

Thank you for reading and following my Berlin adventure!
Do you want to learn more about my story? Follow my journey on Instagram

Questions? Notes? Random thoughts? Let me know! I would love to have a chat!

 

PERSONAL | (sort of) Moving To Berlin

PERSONAL | Moving To BerlinAs the title of this blogpost already gave it away: I moved to Berlin!!

It is al very exciting, strange, crazy and many more things. But most of all wonderful!

Just a heads up: I decided to try a different kind of ‘lifestyle‘ ( I hate that word, but for the life of me can’t think of a different one to describe it) where I don’t have a permanent home.
So this post isn’t really my story of how I ‘organised my suitcase’ or ‘how to move abroad’, but more about trying something new and seeing where it goes.

Let’s start with the back story ( I promise to keep it short;)) I have been living in a different way than most people for over 7 years now. I have lived in so-called ‘temporary homes’. This means that I have lived in an office building for three years and two different apartments after that for very little money.

Temporary homes you say? Uhhm what? I get your question! It means that I have lived in a building or apartment for very little rent, in exchange I kept the space occupied so it wouldn’t be squatted. The only downside is that the contract could end at any moment. So I could get an email or letter saying that I had to find something else within 3 months (this is the minimum amount of time they have to give you). I found living this way great! I have been very lucky and could stay in my previous houses/apartments/buildings for a couple of years, so I didn’t have to move very often.

PERSONAL | Moving To Berlin
Moving day at my last apartment

My last apartment was in Utrecht, The Netherlands. I have lived there for over 4 years and it was a wonderful house, it was big, had a huge garden and it was near my school (plus I could do many home decor projects for this blog in such a big house). A couple of months ago I got the notice that I had to move out in March 2016. Having finished school and working from home, I found it very hard to decide where to live next. Jobs or schools had always decided the next location for me.

And that is when the crazy idea of living out of a suitcase came up!

My boyfriend works abroad a lot and we had being playing with the idea to live wherever he had to work, rent a temporary apartment en move again when his next job started. And we would do this until we got tired of it. So who knows, one year, two..

So here we are, first stop: Berlin!

PERSONAL | Moving To Berlin

The crazy thing is, it actually went very easy. It didn’t involve much planning, just loads of decision making. How to find a temporary house?, what to bring?, what to leave behind?, what to sell? and do we bring our adorable cats or find a temporary stable home for them?

So here comes the part that might be interesting for you. Because while doing this, I have learned so much! And who knows, maybe it can inspire you in some way:)

I am not saying that everybody should become a nomad ( yes, that is apparently what I am called now, a nomad. I looked it up;)) But I do wish that my story inspires you to bring a little bit of adventure into your life.

So, I mentioned a lot of decision making before. That was the part that I found the most difficult. I found out that I have a loooot of stuff. Just random stuff that I don’t need, but keep “just in case”. I got rid of almost all of it, I must admit there might have been loads a single pretty teardrop down my cheek during this process.
But I did keep the most important things and stored it at my parents house, this includes almost all of my workstuff: fabrics, paint, notebooks, etc. And of course my most favourite dresses ;)

And what did I bring? One suitcase and one backpack and that’s it.

PERSONAL | Moving To Berlin
My favourite dresses in our Berlin apartment

I have never been a very spiritual person, so I won’t mention anything about how liberating getting rid of stuff feels, because it doesn’t. At least not for me. I miss my fabrics, shoes and things that I don’t need, but love to have. So I guess I am still in the transition period, having to get used to going about my daily live without my precious belongings.

The only things that we brought with us where clothes, my sewing machine, computer and camera gear, a few art supplies and tools and practical things for the cats (litter box etc.), oh and the two cats of course ;)

PERSONAL | Moving To Berlin
The view from our balcony

I have been in Berlin for almost two weeks now, and it still kind of feels like vacation, not home. But I think it just takes time. I started an intensive German course last week. Which means that I go to school 5 days a week, for a month to practice German, because I really can’t speak it at all.

And how can I afford all of this? I spend almost no money. I know, it’s the least favourite answer that you will want to hear. My previous homes where very cheap to live at, so I could almost live of the money that I make with this blog (which really is not much). I also saved a bit during that time, so that is how I pay for my German language course. And I also planned to apply for some part time jobs during my course month, so that I might have something when I finish the language school.

For now, it feels good. I am taking things very slow. I must admit that writing this blogpost had been on my todo list for two weeks and I have been writing bits and pieces of it in the last couple of days. It was hard to decide how much I wanted to share and how much to keep private. But I ended up writing just everything, because it might help you or inspire you guys or you might just find it entertaining to read;)

And as a treat, some more photos of our new temporary home and a cake store nearby (because, well, cake!)

PERSONAL | Moving To Berlin PERSONAL | Moving To BerlinPERSONAL | Moving To BerlinPERSONAL | Moving To Berlin

 

What do you think? Are we crazy for doing this, or are you inspired to do the same? Let me know! I would love to hear what you think!

I will keep you guys updated on what the next step will be. And no worries, crafts are universal so the regular DIY projects will never stop coming!!;)

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

 

No, this not a post that I wrote last summer, I just went back to Berlin this year!

Last year I visited this amazing city for the first time, and I immediately had the same crush like I felt when I visited New York City for the first time. I am just crazy about Berlin and was so excited to visit it again after a year!

The reason of my visit was to see my boyfriend, who has been working there on an amazing theater project as the video designer. So when he was working during the day, I explored the amazing Berlin on my own, and what a better way to do that, than by bike of course!

And the reason for this post? Just to share my love for this city, because I wish I could bring all of you with me and show you around, and make you fall in love with it, like I did!


My itinerary:

– Annoy people until I get fashion week tickets!!!
– Visit the Berlin fashion week with the tickets that I begged people to get (see previous point)
– Rent a bicycle and cycle around
– Eat a lot of vegetarian and vegan food (because in Berlin you actually have options in a restaurant as a vegetarian! no more mozzarella and tomato salad nights, hooray!)
– Visit the theater
– drink wine and read books, because cycling all day requires a reward

And yes, I completed the entire list!!

First of all let me tell you that getting the fashion week tickets was actually a bit easier than I thought. I emailed the agencies of fashion brands and attached this blogs mediakit and I got a lot of very nice responses, some kindly explained that they where full and others invited me to their show!

I ended up spending one full long day doing fashion week stuff. I planned on doing more, but if I am honest, the fashion scene at these events is not really my thing. I get pretty shy and being on my own at those events makes me a bit uncomfortable. So I picked my favourite shows and cycled around all day to get everywhere on time, and it was pretty amazing!

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

First, I obviously had to announce that I was visiting fashion week to everyone!(see above)
Then I got my press pass and quickly went to the Vonschwanenflügelpupke show right after. It wasn’t really a show, but models standing on blocks showing the new items. I loved the fabrics!

Vonschwanenflügelpupke is a duo that is known for designing beautiful prints on fabric, and they did an amazing job this time! Lot’s of DIY inspiration for me there. Especially the pen lines with watercolour effect!

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

Like I said, it’s a big fashion scene, I love the fashion, but the scene can be overwhelming. I felt a bit out of place cycling everywhere instead of hopping in and out of a taxi, but it was so practical! I even had time to stop by the central area and watch people, watching people ;) And got my nails done at a stand by a very kind girl, which is always awesome!

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

Later that day I went to the Vero Moda rooftop event. It was amazing! Nice music on a rooftop, pretty decor, tasty cocktails and some very pretty henna art! It was the prefect place to rest and be in the moment.

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

And to top my fashionweek day off, I went to the Holy Ghost fashion show. Which was actually hidden in a very cool urban area. After going through the big doors, It turned out that the runway was build on a swimming pool and that the show was timed for sunset. It was amazing!

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich

PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe DichPERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe Dich PERSONAL | Berlin, Ich Liebe DichAnd what else did I do? You know:

– Eating huge cakes,
– Cycling on an airport runway
– Reading in beautiful parks
– Hanging out with my boyfriend
– and most of all: Trying to enjoy every minute!!

I am definitely on going back soon, so please leave your tips about Berlin the comment section!!!

 

TRAVEL | Vietnam, The Journey

Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam
 
For those of you that didn’t know, I have been traveling through Vietnam for three weeks this last month and it was amazing!
 
Vietnam is definitely my new favorite country and I wish I could have stayed longer. I wanted to see as much as I could, which made us (me and my boyfriend) decide to do this crazy adventure of traveling from north to west in less than two weeks. It turned out that it was a bit too crazy and it gave us very little time of relaxing, but oh, did we see some beautiful things!
 
I figured that because we travelled so much through the country and have seen so many places, I’d not only share the pictures, but also give you information on where we went and the advice I have after experiencing it all:)
 
 
So for those of you that plan to go to Vietnam, please read my stories. And for the other 99% I included lots of pictures!! ;) And don’t forget to look at yesterdays pictures!
Let’s start!
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam
Hanoi                      to                                   Danang (sleeper train)
Danang                   to                                    Hoi An (bus)
Hoi An                    to                                   Danang (taxi)
Danang                   to                   Ho Chi Minh City (plane)
Ho Cho Minh City to                                    My Tho (bus & taxi)
My Tho                  to                                    Ben Tre (boat & motortaxi)
Ben Tre                  to                                    Tra Vinh (cargo boat)
Tra Vinh                 to                    Ho Chi Minh City (bus)
Ho Chi Minh City  to                                       Hanoi (plane)
Hanoi                     to                                      Cat Ba (bus, bus, boat, bus)
Cat Ba                    to                                       Hanoi (bus, boat, bus)
Yes! We did all of these things in less than 3 weeks! We went from north to south, back up north and a bit to the east to end up in Hanoi again. It sounds strange, because we ended up in Hanoi 3 times, but that’s because my boyfriends mother came to join us and we wanted to pick her up from the airport.
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam

Hanoi

So we started in Hanoi, the capital city. After a 20 hour trip, this city will be hectic! (It always is, but be prepared because if you are tired you need to hold up that little bit of extra energy to get used to the vibe) Once you are acclimatized, everything will be great! I loved Hanoi, especially the old quarter, it has loads of markets and people. It is the perfect city to walk around and experience live in the city. People mostly just leave you alone:)

Hanoi airport to Hanoi Bus 7

We decided not to take a taxi from the airport but the local bus. This is incredibly cheap and you get to watch the changing countryside from the bus, preparing you for the city. Bus number 7 (if you walk out of the airport all the way to the right) takes about an hour and costs us around VND 9.000
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam

Sleeper train Hanoi to Danang

After one night in Hanoi we wanted to waste no time and booked a sleeper train. This train takes about 10 hours and is fairly comfortable. We didn’t sleep very well though, but that’s mostly to blame on the jetlag. The train moves around a bit and the beds are pretty comfortable. Plus you don’t lose any precious time by traveling overnight. 
 
** Extra note, we are both vegetarians which can be a bit of a challenge in Vietnam. So when you know that you will be on a long train journey, remember to bring some food. Or you will end up having pringles for breakfast like we did;)
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam hoi an fashion

Hoi An

From the sleeper train in Danang we took a local bus to Hoi An. 
Hoi An wasn’t our favorite destination to go, because we knew it was going to be very touristy. But I ended up convincing my boyfriend, because Hoi An is known for one thing: custom tailoring!
 
And I wouldn’t be much of a DIY blogger if I wasn’t fascinated by the Vietnamese tailoring process. 
I came prepared, with pictures of the clothes I wanted to have made and started looking for some good shops. This turned out to be more difficult than I thought. 
 
It seems that everyone coming to Hoi An has something tailor made, which makes it not very fun to shop, salespeople can be pushy and they really overcharge when you don’t know how much something is worth.
I found it very frustrating that a lot of people showed their purchases on the internet (tripadvisor), but never the prices. making it impossible to know how much to ask for something.
So, that will change today:)
 
I had these things made:
One long wool coat and a long flowy dress: 100 dollars. 
One pair of high platform heels: 35 dollars.
One pair of non leather boots: 35 dollars.
 
Having things made here is a risk. You don’t know the quality and you probably don’t have enough time to complain and have them start all over again. My dress and coat turned out amazing! The quality is very good and they fit perfectly! I bought these at Kim Hien shop 
 
The shoes I am not so sure about. The boots I bought by just walking into a shop and asked if they could make them. Later I googled the store and it turned out to be one of the stores people warn you about.. So my advice. Google good stores beforehand, think of what you are willing to pay for it and stick with that store! I must admit that I found it all to be more expensive than I had in mind. I know it’s all very cheap to western standerds, but this is still a lot of money in Vietnam. 
I tried to ask and find out, who ends up making the custom pieces but I never got a real answer. Everyone will say that their family makes it at night. But most shops will send it to a local factory and has everything made there. I am not sure if buying here helps the local people, I guess I have to hope it does..
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam hoi an

Sleeping in Hoi An

We stayed at The Homeland River Homestay. A lovely family run hotel that is just outside of the tourist area. Finding it took us a while and it’s a bit of a walk. But once you are there, you can rent bicycles for free, so you actually just have to walk it once:)
 
Also when you have finished all of your custom clothing orders, it’s very recommendable to rent a motorbike and explore the area!
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam

My Tho

I will keep this short, not the best place to go. It attracts tourist busses during the day, leaving it very boring at night. Not many hotels and the ones that we found, were not ideal. We were looking for a place to explore the mekong during the day and to come back to at night and this was not it:)
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam

My Tho to Ben Tre

The one good thing about ending up in a place like My Tho: it made us very anxious to get out and we would have excepted any escape. So we finally excepted the boat tour that our pushy hotel owner kept forcing on us for the tenth time, under one condition: to make it a one way boattrip and to drop us of in Ben Tre.
 
And what do you know, it turned out to be pretty nice actually! We quietly floated trough beautiful waters. We stopped at a factory that wasn’t a factory and we made it very clear to the guide that we didn’t fancy making stops to look at caged animals or be forced to buy candy. And he surprisingly accepted that and the next stop was on a quiet island where we just walked around looking at all the beautiful plants and fruits. 
After the boat trip he arranged two motortaxis for us that took us to our new hotel, the fabulous Oasis Hotel. That day started to feel as a lost day because of My Tho, but it definitely turned out pretty great!
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam

Ben Tre to Tra Vinh

Ben Tre itself isn’t all that, but the area is beautiful. We actually finally took a break and hang around the hotel a lot! Reading in our hammocks, swimming in the pool and going out for something to eat. We rented bikes one day and cycled around, it was very pretty!
From Ben Tre, we decided to go to an even more remote place called Tra Vinh. And how did we get there? By Cargoboat! 
Yes, we spend about 7 hours on a very basic and old cargoship, while we could have taken a 3 hour bustrip.  And it was totally worth it!
It gave us the change to see how the Mekong really works. We learned that there are small villages on the water, that the Vietnamese are the best at getting as much coconuts on a boat as possible and that it takes about 30 minutes to load as many sugar packs on our cargoship :)
TRAVEL-_-Vietnam-post-8
Our cargoship
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam

Tra Vinh

Tra Vinh is a small place that doesn’t see many tourists, which made it perfect! Everybody greeted us on the street, we could easily walk around go to markets and felt very welcome. We rented a motorbike and drove around for a whole day, driving through villages that obviously hadn’t seen many tourists before. It was magical to be greeted so enthusiastically and to visit all of these gorgeous temples and areas.
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City

What is there to say besides: big, busy, modern, old, rich, poor, pretty and faded. We only spend one full day here and it was way to short to experience any real feeling of the city. We decided to visit the museums and catch up on the Vietnamese history, since they don’t really teach you that in school in Holland. 
 
We stayed in a hotel that people recommended to us, and it turned out to be in the lonely planet but for a much larger price. We were traveling in the low season, so we got a pretty good deal. It is called The Elegant Inn, the people are very nice there and it is located in the best district if you are only staying for a night or two.
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam

Hanoi- Cat Ba

Let’s skip ahead, we took a flight from HCMC to Hanoi at night, stayed at an airport hotel and the next morning we picked up my boyfriends mother from the airport. We took her to Hanoi for one night to acclimatize and the next day we spend traveling to Cat Ba.
 

Why Cat Ba and not Halong Bay?

Halong Bay is the famous area that you may know from pictures with rock formations sticking out of the water. It is amazing and visiting Vietnam without seeing this would be a sin. But.. it is almost impossible to go to Halong Bay without an organized tour. You may have noticed that we are not the biggest fans of touristspots and organized tours is just something we try to avoid.
 
We read and heard that Cat Ba is very close to Halong Bay and is just as beautiful but a bit harder to get to from Hanoi if you travel without a tour. We found this website called Asia Outdoors and they are the best! They explain on their website how to get to Cat Ba Island and offer a lot of information.
We ended up booking a fun kayaking day trip with them. It was so pretty, kayaking through this unusual landscape. (me and my boyfriend shared a kayak, and it turns out that we are both extremely bad at it, so I may have missed some beautiful sites by “discussing” our skills with him;))
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam

Back in Hanoi

After our 3 day trip to Cat Ba Island I enjoyed one last day in Hanoi, before leaving to go back home. I tried to capture as many pictures, memories, smells and sites as possible to take back home. I bought souvenirs, we walked around and I realized how much I had gotten used to all the motorbikes, the warmth and the smells of all of the delicious food. I was going to miss this place!
Travel advice, tips and tricks on traveling in south east asia's vietnam

TRAVEL | Vietnam Picture Diary

backpacking and travel in vietnam
I am back! And what a wonderful time I had! I have been traveling through Vietnam for about three weeks and had an amazing time!
I have been traveling with my boyfriend and we had this crazy idea of traveling all across Vietnam in less than two weeks! We didn’t back out and ended up seeing and experiencing some of my new favorite places.
I have so many stories and we have seen a lot of beautiful things. That is why this post is my biggest photo post so far! I couldn’t decide on which pictures to show you and decided to just overwhelm you with all of my favorites!
 
I hope that you enjoy the images and please let me know what your favorite travel experiences are!
 
Because it was such a crazy thing to do it involved a lot of planning, googling and compromising during the trip. It turns out that it’s not alway easy to want to travel by yourself instead of taking an organized tour in Vietnam. We had to figure a lot of it out by ourselves once we were there and it was sometimes frustrating that there was just so little information on the internet. 
 
 
That is why I wrote a very (very very) long story about our trip. With tips and advice on where to go and our experiences. 
 
That post will be on the blog tomorrow
First off, I used the amazing app “1 second everyday“. Just to start with a quick impression:)

While floating away on a cargoship in the Mekong Delta, photographing the authentic ships that pass by.
backpacking and travel in vietnam





Broken Ferry. Just sit back, relax and watch men fix the engine risking all of their fingers. 
 
backpacking and travel in vietnam
Cycling in Hoi An
backpacking and travel in vietnam
The Real DIY version  in Hoi An
backpacking and travel in vietnam
backpacking and travel in vietnam
There is nothing that doesn’t fit on the back of a motorbike in Vietnam. After watching people carry doors, chickens and many other crazy things on their bikes. This is the most original one so far: a working oven, with fire, stove and all.
backpacking and travel in vietnam
Floating supermarket 
backpacking and travel in vietnam
Life in Hanoi
backpacking and travel in vietnam
Life in Ho Chi Minh City
backpacking and travel in vietnam
backpacking and travel in vietnam
Don’t forget to check out te blog tomorrow for a lot of stories and more pictures!

OUTFIT / TRAVEL | Backpack Packing Tips

What to wear when backpacking or traveling in South East Asia's Vietnam
Vietnam here I come! I have never been this prepared in my life, and it is all thanks to writing this post!
I have been traveling as much as my wallet and time allows me to for the last few years. And because I am always on a tight budget it either involved me packing a hand luggage suitcase for a two week trip. Or stuffing a big backpack with all of my favorite dresses, for the backpacking travels. A few of my trips where to: Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, India and eastern Europe. 
 
You would think that packing would be easy right now, but that couldn’t be more further from the truth. Because looking at the weather forecast for a country as Vietnam is extremely confusing. Everyone says something else and my conclusion is to be prepared for: rain, sun, typhoons, wind, cold and warm weather…
Yes, how convenient:)
 
So, it took me all of my effort, experience and a dive into my closet, but I finally have the ultimate packing list ready for you! Want to know what to pack to a warm country with limited luggage space? 
Ready? Here it comes!
 
(** this is the fashion version of my packing list, for the accessories & gears list check out the blog next week!)

E S S E N T I A L S

What to wear when backpacking or traveling in South East Asia's Vietnam
Long Skirt | Kimono | Pants | Dress | Playsuit
I have been reading a lot of blogs and websites on what the most essential things to bring for the prefect outfit are according to them. I must say, I disagree with most of them. Kaki shorts and grey long sleeved blouses are practical, but in my opinion not necessary at all. Colors are not banned in other countries and unless you go on long hiking trips, you can also be very satisfied with a long flowy skirt instead of zip-off pants.
Besides the usual tees, socks and underwear, there are these 5 things that will always be in my backpack. 

 K I M O N O

What to wear when backpacking or traveling in South East Asia's Vietnam
Kimono by Lana Red Studio | Dress by H&M | Bathingsuit is Vintage | Shoes by Pieces
This is my all time favorite! And the best news? I made a tutorial about it, and it will be on the LRS blog very soon! 
You can wear it as a vest for warmth, to cover yourself up when visiting temples, etc, as a beach kimono for style and in warmer climates to cover yourself up when riding on a sleeper train when you have to use the restroom, but don’t want to get dressed.

D R E S S

What to wear when backpacking or traveling in South East Asia's Vietnam
Dress by Chicwish | Sweater by Lana red Studio
In a warmer climate, I often prefer dresses over shorts, because it’s more breezy and you look less touristy. Sometimes I feel a little bit overdressed, because I tend to bring my fancy dresses, but on the other hand: how often do you look fabulous in Vietnam? (as a side note, maybe bring some shorts, if your dress is a bit short or if you are visiting a windy area;))

 P A N T S

What to wear when backpacking or traveling in South East Asia's Vietnam
Pants by H&M | Sweater by Lana Red Studio | Blouse by H&M | Top is Vintage
Long trousers are definite must. Wether it’s colder or you are going on a hike, it’s better to wear long pants, to keep those mosquitos away from your newly tanned legs.

S K I R T

What to wear when backpacking or traveling in South East Asia's Vietnam
Skirt by Forever21 | Top is Vintage | Kimono by Lana Red Studio
Long skirts are the best! They are girly, yet practical and always look good! You can wear leggings underneath when it gets cold at night and you never have to worry about breaking dress codes when traveling in another country.

 P L A Y S U I T

What to wear when backpacking or traveling in South East Asia's Vietnam
Kimono by Lana Red Studio | Playsuit by Primark | Blouse by H&M
And then there is the playsuit. Practical in every way, except one: going to the restroom is a bit of a challenge… But I find them very comfortable and perfect for every occasion.

 B A C K P A C K *F A S H I O N *C H O I C E S

What to wear when backpacking or traveling in South East Asia's Vietnam
Obviously those 5 things are not the only things to bring. Everything you see above can be mixed and matched with your basics. To make it easy for you, here’s a list of my packing items:
  • Bathing suit
  •  bikini
  • Sweater
  • Shorts
  • Playsuit
  • Skirt
  • Dress x2
  • Kimono
  • Short sleeved blouse
  • Top x3
  • Long beach dress
  • Slippers
  • Shoes
  • Pants
  • Scarf
Not included in the list is underwear (because some things are maybe best to stay private;) and towels. 
Hopefully this list will make your packing days a little bit easier. Writing this post certainly helped me to make packing more fun! Be on the lookout for my accesories and gears list this week, to complete your backpack packing!

PERSONAL | City Trip Berlin

How about an overload of my vacation pictures? Yes? Ok! 
 
Last week I hitchhiked to Berlin with my boyfriend and it was amazing! I had never been to Berlin before and I immediately fell in love with the city. It reminded me a lot of Brooklyn and I felt right at home.
 
We only stayed for a couple of days, but in a lovely Airbnb apartment
**For those of you that haven’t heard of Airbnb before: you should check it out! It allows you to rent peoples homes or rooms and gives you a much more personal experience of a city than staying in hotels.
 
Hitchhiking also went very smooth, I only hitch-hiked once before in Canada, and was pretty nervous this time. But in went great and we met a lot of different and extremely kind people. It made the trip so much more interesting and it was wonderful to hear the stories that all these different people told us about their lives.
 
And for the rest of the trip: shopping, vintage, monuments, museums, galleries, lots and lots of eating, photo boots, and most of all a lot of fun and relaxing pretty much sums it up!
 
And if the pictures in this post aren’t enough, no worries: my Instagram has plenty more!

 

PERSONAL | Lana In Greece

Today I am sharing my recent trip to Greece with you! 
 
I already showed you a sneak peek into my vacation pics the other day, in my recent outfit post. But now I selected a few of my favorite pictures that I took while in Greece.
 
Me and my boyfriend went to the beautiful island Corfu and just fell in love with it! It was so peaceful and pretty, and the entire island smells like flowers (really!)
 
We stayed in a wonderful apartment and woke up every morning with an ocean view! We hiked, read books on the beach, cuddled with the dog, and just really tried to soak all the fantastic views in. Because I have never been to a place that has so many varying lookout points!
 
Now before I truly start to sound like a travel agent working for Greece :) , I do want to give a special mention to the place that we stayed in. Because we just booked it online not knowing what to expect, but it was the most wonderful experience! We stayed at Felicita-Balis in a very affordable apartment and the owner, Felicia is one of the kindest people I have ever met. She prepared us some food because we arrived so late without us even asking for it, and she was the best host you could ever wish for! So everyone go to Corfu because it’s the best! And when you go, please take me with you;)