I’ll be honest, Eindhoven wasn’t high up on my list to visit. If I’m even more honest, the only reason I’d ever heard of the place was because of their football team – so you can see where there was a lack of cultural knowledge.

I’m always up for visiting new places though, and even better when it costs me less than £30 (which is how I ended up visiting Oslo a couple of years ago). So when my two good friends (and fellow travel bloggers) Erin and Lily suggested we take a trip this year back in January, we started our search for where we could get to for a little weekend away.

We settled on Eindhoven 1. because the flights were £20, 2. because none of us had ever been there before and 3. we could go there and back within the weekend – what more could we want – so we booked it on January 1st, and last weekend, the time came for us to take our trip.

I’d been looking forward to this break all year as although we have been friends for a couple of years now, this would be our first time going away together, and I was excited to spend more time with them both.

It was only until a couple of days before the trip that I realised I knew nothing about the city. Apart from booking the hotel, I hadn’t even looked up Eindhoven online, which was very unlike me as I like to have a plan whenever I go abroad… but it turned out the other two were in the same boat as me so the whole weekend we just ‘winged it’.

There is something strangely exhilarating about going to a place you haven’t researched as it makes you step outside of your comfort zone. I was expecting Eindhoven to be similar to Amsterdam, but it was completely different: Although there was a good ‘party’ scene after hours, the buildings were much more modern and contemporary and as it is more inland, there were no canals like they have in the capital – there were insane numbers of cyclists though so watch your step!

DISCOVER

Strijp-S District

As there were no landmarks that stood out as ‘must-visits’ like you get in Barcelona or Rome, we thought that discovering an area would be a good way to spend an afternoon, and we were truly intrigued by this place.

This area is about a 20-minute walk outside of the centre of Eindhoven, but well worth a visit. It’s hard to explain what it was like in all its glory – it reminded me a lot of Berlin meets Brixton as it was very industrial, quirky and ‘techy’ as Philips had a large presence in the area until around the year 2000.

If you really wanted to feel like a local, you could rent a bike and cycle to this area too!

There are a lot of metal structures that house flats, warehouses and loft spaces, but also bars, homeware stores and ice cream parlours. In the midst of everything that is going on too, there is a huge skate park, amazing street art and a lot of open land. If you are there over a weekend, there is a free walking tour every other week around Strijp-S.

STAY

We stayed about a 5-minute walk out of the city centre at the ‘Sandton Eindhoven Centre‘ which was a lovely hotel in the perfect location. It was really easy to find from the bus station and the staff were very welcoming. The lobby also had a gorgeous bar with blush pink seats and a fireplace.

We had a quadruple room, with two lovely comfy double beds and all of the amenities we wanted; my only criticism would be that there was no full-length mirror – not great when you have three girls staying in there, but otherwise a really lovely hotel.

SHOP

One of the things that took me aback about Eindhoven was how good the shopping was. There were some names that we have here in the UK, but also some that are a little harder to find on the high-street, which are always good to have a little browse around. There were also a couple of Dutch homeware stores that had some incredible pieces – such a shame we only travelled with hand luggage as I could have brought so much back with me!

We spent our last couple of hours in the city having a browse through the shops and I even picked up a few summery bits to wear when the weather gets a bit warmer.

VISIT

Philips Museum

If Eindhoven is famous for one thing, it’s being the birthplace of Philips. There is a museum in the centre of the city that is dedicated to the history of the company which is €9 to get in. You’ll notice when you’re walking around the city that so many of the buildings are still Philips offices, which shows the staggering presence they still have.

UFO

The UFO building (really called Evoluon Eindhoven) is one of the attractions we didn’t get the chance to go around, but we did see it on our taxi ride back to the airport. It was built by Philips in the shape of a UFO to represent Philips ‘landing’ in the city and is now used as an events space.

Van Abbemuseum

The hotel we stayed in was only a stone’s throw away from the Van Abbe Museum, which had a lovely peaceful location on the waterfront. The museum houses different exhibitions throughout the year and is one of Eindhoven’s most popular tourist attractions.

Gin Experience

If gin is your kind of thing (and let’s face it, of course it is) then you have to visit the bottle distillery, where you learn about the history of gin, get to sample different flavours and make your own sample.

It’s around the corner from the Van Abbemuseum and has a bar that looks onto a canal with lots of outdoor seating so you really feel like you’re on holiday. The distillery is housed in an old textile factory where you’ll also find independent businesses selling arts and crafts.

I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about a city that might not have been on your radar before and fancy a little trip away. The flight time is only 1 hour so it’s the perfect place to go for the weekend.

Have you been to Eindhoven before? What did you get up to? 

xx

First of all, it needs to be addressed… who doesn’t like the idea of a holiday? In the past few years, I’ve travelled to more places than I ever thought imaginable, and every time I get bitten by the wanderlust-bug that little bit more. 

Last weekend I spent time in a new and exciting city and this week I’ve been buzzing from that time away, which has made me feel more motivated than I have done in a long while.

There are so many different types of breaks

Sometimes booking a trip can be overlooked because there are so many other things in life that we put first; bills, food shopping, work and general adulting. Let’s face it, life is hard, and it’s okay to admit that. This is why it’s important that you take a break so that you are able to recharge your batteries and appreciate the beauty of the world again, as that is what is so important.

Some people don’t like to admit that they need a break as they assume that it implies they’re weak, but this isn’t the case at all. Everyone needs a break – a holiday, a trip, some time away from everyday life – it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and can be the most exhilarating experience. 

Here are some more reasons why it’s important to take a well-earned break.

You need to spend quality time with your loved ones.

This doesn’t mean sitting in front of the tv in silence, or fiddling with your phones at the dinner table, it means getting out of the house and spending real time together – doing activities, playing around, and most importantly laughing with one another.

Holidays are the best way to do this because you’re in a new environment and that in itself is exciting, amidst being in a new and exciting place to explore.

You need to unwind.

The more we go through life, the busier it seems to get and no one has any time to waste anymore. It’s essential that we all have time to switch off otherwise your mind will be ticking far more than it needs to.

This can be done by sitting by the pool, or dancing the night away while drinking your freshly made sangria on the beach. Places like Interhome ensure you get the luxury you deserve on your trip.

You need to broaden the mind.

Yes it’s a cliche saying that travel broadens the mind, but it couldn’t be more true. Going on holiday is a brilliant way of getting inspired and opening the mind up more than it is because you see so much – such a diversity of people, cultures, landscapes, and food (the most important factor, in my opinion).

You may see something that changes your whole outlook on life, or come up with an idea to make things better or easier once you’re back home. It’s all about going through new experiences and activities that you’re not used to. Step out of your comfort zone and enjoy every second of it.

You need to have something to look forward to.

No matter how far away your holiday may be, whether that’s in a few weeks, or next year – it’s still something to look forward to. When you’re down or wanting to give up, you can focus your mind on the holiday and know that the struggle will all be worth it once you’re there sipping mojitos in the sun.

Just the knowing holds so much power that will turn your negative thinking into a positive one and keep you ticking over.

If you still find you haven’t made your mind up, or feel like you don’t have enough time to go away – make time. It’ll be worth it in the long run.

xx

I first read Ellie’s blog – The Wandering Quinn – back in February whilst I was in Bath and I saw she had written a post about places to go and since then I have been hooked. She’s also been a guest on two of my favourite podcasts – The Travelust Podcast by Sam Sparrow and What She Said by Lucy Lucraft.

Ellie lives in London and works full time whilst fitting her love of travel into her annual leave. Her posts are full of tips and tricks for travelling abroad on your own or in a group, and her quest to see the world will definitely leave you wanting to book a holiday ASAP.

Get ready to be inspired by – Ellie Quinn

1. Hi Ellie, (great name!) thanks for joining us today for the 4th Be Inspired By blog. Let’s start at the beginning – How long have you been blogging for and how did you get into it? 

I’ve been blogging for 4 years now. I started in March 2014 after leaving Australia, I had been there for 2 years and was about to start a big trip around South East Asia. A friend said I should start a blog to document my travels, I had been reading blogs to get ideas on where to go in South East Asia and I liked the idea of journaling and sharing my knowledge so I did and I wrote regularly on a Tumblr account for 6 months (old school I know!).

After that, I created www.thewanderingquinn.com where I continued to blog in a journal style for another year or so and doing it very much as a hobby when I fancied doing it. It wasn’t until I moved to London at the start of 2016 where I thought ‘this could be a thing!’ and I was aware of bloggers actually doing this full time, going on press trips and earning money from it, at that point I started posting more regularly and improving my writing, photos etc.

 

2. Your blog is one of the best travel blogs I’ve ever read. Do you have any tips for people who are wanting to start one of their own? 

Thank you!

Definitely just start! I met a lady at a yoga event in September, I casually told her I have a blog and she saw it on my Facebook after the event. She recently felt like she needed some creativity and something different in her life so she started a blog and really likes it. It’s so good to see how its changed her outlook on things and boosted her creativity, she’s also joined some pages on Facebook where there is a lovely community of people. I think the community is the best thing about blogging, to be honest.

Secondly, work out your passion, this doesn’t have to be too much of a ‘niche’ but work out what you are passionate to write and post about. If you want to keep blogging and create a successful blog (‘success’ will mean different things to different people) you do have to start it from passion I think. Passion for the subject, passion for the sharing, as it can take up a lot of time and it takes a lot of time to grow too. If you want to make blogging your career I say go for it but unless you have the passion it’s going to feel like hard work pretty quickly! And whether it’s you’re career or not you’ll often question ‘why am I doing this??’.

As a more practical tip, I’d say be sure to spend some time thinking about a name. Your name should reflect what you’re blogging about (unless you use your own name), but don’t categorise yourself too much. So many people have blog names that relate to budget travel which is fine for them now but if they start posting about fancier places in the future and travelling on a higher budget then it’ll be hard to market yourself and your blog.

 

3. Where is your favourite place you’ve ever visited? 

This is a hard one!

I say that Thailand is my favourite Country as I’ve been there so many times and I just love it but I feel like this question isn’t asking that, so I’d say my favourite place that I’ve visited is Ayampe in Ecuador, that’s the first place that comes to mind anyway, it’s a little beach village, its so quiet and beautiful and it was just what I needed at that time on that trip.

 

4. Is there any part of blogging that you aren’t a fan of? 

The comparison and the numbers!

It’s so so easy to start comparing myself to other people. Looking at their blog and thinking it looks better than mine, seeing that their numbers are higher than mine, seeing that they’ve been invited on a trip and I haven’t. I’m a very positive person and I’ve never been one to put myself down too much so I never think ‘mine is rubbish and I’m a rubbish blogger etc.’ but it’s easy to get discouraged and feel a bit disappointed.

The numbers annoy me too. Again its so easy to put my worth and our worth as bloggers into numbers – number of likes, number of followers, number of subscribers!

I try to remember that I’m running my own race, how far I’ve come and remind myself of how proud I am of my blog when I’m not in that comparison mindset.

 

5. You still work full time whilst being an avid writer. How do you fit your blog and all your travels in around your blog?

It’s hard that’s for sure.

Right now I’m blogging more than ever and feel like I’m at max capacity. I generally use the weekends to do most of my work, during the winter this was ok but I know it’s going to be harder once the summer comes around. As I am a travel blogger usually I’ll go away for one weekend and then spend at least one day the next weekend writing about it. It can feel like a lot but I remind myself of the awesome weekend I had the week before and without me working on the blog that wouldn’t have happened (if it was a press trip).

I also get up earlier now and again to spend an hour on my blog before going to work, I use my hour commute to and from work to do all my social media posting and interaction, and occasionally I do things in the evenings but nothing too intensive unless I’m struggling for time. I love my blog and I love blogging but not enough to ‘burn out’. My full-time job pays for my rent and my life and I know that nothing is going to happen if I don’t post!

 

6. Do you have any tips for the people reading this on how to pitch to travel brands?

I’d say to put a media pack together with all of your numbers, a bit about you and your blog along with any brands you may have worked with, if you don’t have any, thats fine. I think media packs are a great way of keeping all this information together in an easy to read format.

Don’t send a general cover email. Make it relevant to the brand you are pitching to, tell them why you want to work with them, give them some ideas on how you can work together. Ask if they work with bloggers or have worked with bloggers.

Don’t be afraid to be specific too. If you want a 2 night stay in a hotel, write in the email that that’s what you want and write what you will do in return.

Another tip is to pitch to brands that you have seen working with bloggers, that way you know they are open for collaborations and understand blogging and bloggers.

Also note that often tourist boards and even other travel brands work with PR companies. I look on their website to get contact details but if I can’t see them I’ll send them a message on twitter or instagram and sometimes its the PR company that will reply. It’s always good to get on a PR’s radar and if they can’t work with you on this occasion ask to be put on the mailing list for future campaigns for their travel clients!

 

7. Would you ever want to take your blog full-time? 

Honestly yes. If you’d asked me that this time last year or even this time 6 months ago I would have probably said no, but I’m seeing more and more growth from my blog every month and its exciting. It’s just scary to take the leap, right now I’m not earning enough or even being offered enough work to cover my rent and life in London but at the same time I don’t have the time to pitch for all of that work because of my full time job! I’m also conscious that I don’t want my blog to become too much like work and I like having a regular income so we’ll have to see what the future brings!

 

8. What is your biggest blogging achievement to date? 

For me its my page views. They literally tripled in 2017 from 2016 and they are growing month by month now in 2018. I’m seeing older posts starting to get views, some are only low numbers, others are now in my top 10 viewed posts most days and seeing this growth makes me so proud.

I also think that it helps that page views aren’t spoken about that much, everyone keeps them to themselves (aside from telling brands) so its easy not to compare myself to others as I don’t see other peoples to compare too. It’s a kind-of private achievement I guess.

My aim is to reach a point where I can start advertising on my site with a particular platform and monetise that way (if you’re wondering why I’m so into my page views!).

 

9. And finally, what would be your ultimate brand to work with? 

Ooh this is hard! I’d probably have to say a tourist board of a Country I love or would love to visit! Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan, China, all of Central America are all places I really want to go so if I was contacted by any of their tourist boards to work with them I’d be pretty happy!

And there you have the wonderful Ellie Quinn talking through her journey to where she is today.

Find The Wandering Quinn on Twitter, Instagram and on her blog.

xx

History is something we like to learn about, and often we need to learn about it – it’s one of my favourite reasons to go abroad. There’s a lot you can do and see in the world, that’s a given, but everywhere has it’s own history, and taking the time to enrich your own life by seeing them is something we get to do so easily nowadays. It’s an incredibly exciting thought, and one you should spend a little more time thinking about when it comes to planning your next trip…

That’s not to say you even have to go far to get your dose of the good stuff; there are so many places within the UK that are steeped in history, but sometimes it’s fun to head a little further afield. There’s so much out there for you to discover, and for anyone who loves the idea of culture and learning where it came from, I’ve rounded up a few places that will hopefully make a great visit.

Virginia, USA

 

First, let’s head West, and out to the USA – not somewhere known for its vast history, but there is still enough there to sink your teeth into. Virginia was one of the first colonies to be established back in the day, and it’s still around now for people to delve into to find out about modern America’s history. Book yourself a room at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Lynchburg and then head out with your camera or your notebook to take a trip around the monuments here.

You can head out to see Jamestown here, the original settlement that helped Virginia spring to life, and it still exists today. Although it is under archaeological excavations from time to time, there’s plenty of tours you can join to get a real look at all the highlights.

Why not investigate how modern settlers really got to know the land they wanted to live on, and how they interacted with the Native Americans? It’s a history class we really get to hear about in other parts of the world.

Rome

I couldn’t write this blog without mentioning my favourite place in the world – Rome – and one that is a little closer to home. I’ve been three times now, and every time I forget how beautiful it is and how stunning the buildings are.

Rome is a city that’s often cited as the centre of the world, and that’s something to take advantage of when you’re planning a culturally rich trip. There’s so much history to see here, you’re never going to want to tear your eyes away from the skyline!

To start off with, you have Vatican City – a country all of its own in technical terms, it’s a place you can explore and delve right into the history of Christianity. Considering it’s one of the most widely practised religions around the world, you already know there’s a lot for you to take in here.

Then you have the Colosseum to see, and that’s something that’s on everyone’s bucket list; it’s a wonder of the world for a reason (and if you’re a Lizzie Maguire fan, it’s not to be missed!) 

Beijing

Beijing is an ancient wonder in its own right, and that makes it such a popular place with tourists. Not only is it a cultural centre of the modern world, but it’s somewhere you can discover so much from ancient families and civilisations you’ll never see the like of anywhere else.

You can find the Forbidden City here, which was the Imperial Palace up until about 1912. It’s now a museum and is regarded as one of the best in the world to learn about the history of one of the most intriguing countries in the world. 

Have you been to any of these destinations? What did you think? 

xx

Photo credit

There are countless holy sites all over the world. From historic temples to pilgrimage trails. Many of these crops up on traveller’s bucket lists and even the most casual of holidaymaker can be tempted to visit a site of religious significance during their holiday. It’s easy to see why.

Even if you aren’t remotely religious, visiting somewhere that holds such importance for so many can be enlightening. It can make you feel very small, put your own life into fresh perspective and take your breath away. These locations are often nothing short of wondrous, filled with religious art and symbolism; there’s much to see. These trips also often fall into the “once in a lifetime” category and shouldn’t be missed if you do get the chance.

But, it can be tricky. If you don’t follow a specific religion yourself, it can be hard to know what to expect or, what is expected of you. But, it’s crucial that you are always respectful of the customs and cultures of the location. Here’s how to do it.

Time it Right

Some sites will play home to pilgrimages or be much busier around religious holidays. So, it’s important to remember that while you are just a sightseer, other people are there to pay homage to their Gods and religious idols. Read guides like When is the Best Time for Umrah? To make sure you avoid visiting during these times of the year unless you want to be a part of it.

Do You Research

The best way to respect other cultures and beliefs is always by learning more about them. We’re very lucky that we can just turn on a laptop and Google the religion in question. Learn a bit about their beliefs and culture, as well as the site you are visiting. This way you are less likely to do anything that might offend. You’ll also appreciate your trip more having a little background knowledge.

Stick to the Dress Code

Many religious locations and even churches and other places of worship around the world have a dress code. Make sure you know what it is and that you are prepared. At some sites, you may need to remove your shoes, and women may have to cover their legs and head. Don’t turn up in shorts and be sent away.

Leave Your Politics at Home

You may firmly believe in gender equality and be firmly against asking women to cover up. But, when it comes to visiting the home of another religion and culture, it’s not your beliefs that matter.

Be Careful with Photography

Now we’re all armed with a smartphone; it’s habit to take photos of everything all the time. They’re often on social media before we even get home. This might not be allowed in holy buildings, as many feel that constant clicking and flashing detracts from the Holy atmosphere. Check the rules before you arrive and ask if you are unsure. Some places may allow photographs, but charge extra for it.

Have you ever been to a place of worship? 

xx