Europe Itineraries and Destinations Tips and Mistakes

Exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle by car

Visiting Iceland is a dream for many people, and for several good reasons. Mostly for those breathtaking and almost unspoiled views. But not only because of that, also all that mysticism that Iceland brings in us for all of those unique natural activities, that for most of us can only fit in our imagination. Like volcanos, northern lights and the midnight sun. Even for those who only have a few days to visit, the Golden Circle is a short route really close to the capital, and easy to visit.

Europe Tips and Mistakes

What did I pack for Disneyland Paris?

This trip was completely different from all my other travels, it was the very first time I traveled alone with kids! I decided to treat my nephew and niece with a special weekend, they were only 5 and 8 when we did this trip. It was their first time at Disneyland Paris, and they had no clue about where I would take them.

Tips and Mistakes

How to backup your photos while on the road

Why do we take photos when we travel?

Obviously that depends on each one of us, for some photography is their way of living, for others it is just a hobby, and for a few others it is a way to preserve memories. But there is something in common to all of us, losing all photos taken during our holidays is enough to spoil at least one day! And for those that make a living out of that, losing photos is also losing loads of money…

Usually I can’t take time off to travel for more than two weeks, but it already happened to me to lose all my photos on a weekend trip, and I still don’t know how I did it…, therefore, backing up my photos is something that became quite important to me. I learnt my lesson, and I because more cautious of my photos.


On my last trip, to Australia, my levels of concern increased to an almost psycho level…, two months on the other side of the world. Those were literally thousands of memories that I will never want to lose, and misplacing one of those cards filled with memories would be enough to have a few grumpy days. To avoid those levels of concern to reach a level of not even having fun, I had to look for other ways to insure I wouldn’t come back without those precious photos of my epic trip. After some research, I decided by a combination of strategies, all listed below. Yes, all of them!

Several memory cards

This is probably the most common way of backing up, actually, technically I don’t even think this can be considered as a backup as there will be no copies. I am talking about the camera’s SD card, where I’ll have all my photos, and we simply change to another card, and another, and another one… Since that was the most obvious option, and since I already had a few spare SD cards, I even considered to mail them home. But then, maybe that would stress me out even more. What if the envelope would be lost as well? I already had a bad experience with something alike, a package that never arrived to its destination… So, I had to think of other options…

SD memory cards
SD memory cards

Macbook Pro / iPad

At first I considered to take the iPad with me. Perfect to take several books inside a single device, I could take notes, I could edit photos right there, etc. But before I decided by that, for a month I only used the iPad to copy photos, to blog, etc. In fact, I can do all of them on an iPad, but it wasn’t the same as on a computer, and besides that, even the available space for backups was way more limited.

I hesitated a lot in taking the Macbook Pro with me. Extra weight? Well, I did realize quite fast that it wouldn’t be a problem, I wouldn’t carry it with me often, only from the bus to the hostel and vice-versa. Therefore, the extra weight wasn’t even a problem to consider. Safety? Yep, same as the iPad, actually, considering that the iPad is smaller than the Macbook, that makes it even easier to steal… Available space in the hard drive? A lot!

I ended up by taking the Macbook Pro with me, and the fact that it is already quite old and that I was already considering to replace it, the decision became obvious…, but…, what if someone stole it? Memory cards in one bag, backups on the Macbook Pro…, and I was still not happy with it…

MacBook Pro
MacBook Pro

Cloud Backups (iCloud)

Yes, my psychotic levels of concern were high! I decided to pay for a iCloud photo storage plan, 1TB. About 10€ /month, and some peace of mind. But I still had some doubts, I did quite some research how to backup while on the road, and one of the comments that made me feel more uneasy was regarding internet access in some remote places. In fact, just to upload all my current library to the cloud it took me almost a full week! The upload speed made me feel even more nervous, even though it sounds like an awesome solution, it could go terribly wrong if I couldn’t find a good internet connection.

Well.., as a matter of a fact, I rarely found places with proper internet. In two months on the road, I didn’t even manage to upload half of my photos…, I still needed a plan D) to backup my photos without the need of internet…

External Hard Drive

And I found the perfect solution! I purchased a 2TB My Passport Wireless! It is an external hard drive with SD card reader, that copies all the card’s content without duplication content previously backed up. I just loved that solution, and to test it, I used it a couple of times before my holidays, and I honestly loved it! They have a companion app for iPad/iPhone, and with that we can have a better control of what is being copied, the backing up progress, free space, etc. We even can used as a router, we can connect the hard drive to a wireless network and from there, we can keep our iPhone always connected to the disk without having to switch network each time we want to access the hard drive and/or to the internet.

Not so good things about the My Passport, I found it a tiny bit too slow, and the fact that we can’t have it connected to a wireless network while being connected via USB to the computer, is a bit of an annoyance… (I took a while to figure this out). But in general, it was the perfect solution, a full backup of my SD card, and an external hard drive that I can just place in some other bag.

Hard drive with SD card slot
Hard drive with SD card slot

The combination of the hard drive with the iPad would be perfect, way lighter than the Macbook Pro. But why still insisting by carrying the Macbook Pro? Mostly because it is harder to blog on the iPad, possible but a bit harder…, and at this point I was already decided, therefore it didn’t even cross my mind to change plans.


  • Never delete your photos from the memory cards, it’s always better to have a few spare ones than trusting that everything will be fine, and then…
  • Computer or iPad to edit and process the photos directly from the SD cards, also as a backup alternative
  • Cloud Backup, not the way I recommend the most, but it is always an option for those who don’t take photos in RAW or are not crazy about shooting every single thing they see…
  • External hard drive, to keep somewhere else all the remaining backups. If we get stolen, there are less chances that they take everything from us…

The strategy, obviously, it is up to you. For sure there are other ways to make sure you’ll get home with all your photos.

What about you guys? Do you backup your photos while on the road? Write down a comment with your strategy 🙂

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Backing up your photos while on the road

Oceania Tips and Mistakes

What did I pack for Australia?

Now that I am back, it’s time to review how well I packed for Australia. Did I overpacked? Or did I packed a bit way too light? After all, it was two months in Australia, always jumping from hostel to hostel, camping, sailing and a few more adventures. Before boarding to such an aventure, of course I had to think how to pack, in a way that I wouldn’t carry my house on my back, but also not having to buy clothes while there just because I overlooked some detail. It’s all part of the big plan!



Well, this list is simply massive. Looking at the following list, it gets clear how I prioritize my packing for this trip… And the thing is, from the list above, I used every single thing! The only thing I didn’t use that often and I kinda of regret to pack was the chest mount for the GoPro. I only used it once, and I didn’t find it that practical, and oddly the selfie stick was the accessory I used the most (even though, I still think it is a stupid accessory, when used solely for selfies…).

Regarding memory cards, I ended up using them all, and the external hard drive was as a safety mesure, to have always a backup of all my photos. Thankfully I didn’t get robbed, but I had quite some peace of mind knowing I had three copies of everything, on my mac, on the external hard drive and the memory cards. (I’ll write an article about this later).

The mobile phones…, I bet some will find this odd, why having two phones? Since I went on a longer trip, I decided to take three debit/credit cards with me of two different bank accounts, and I was quite afraid of having one of my cards cloned, hence the two phones, one with my Irish number always on, and the other one with the new Australian number, that I used for local calls.

And the Pebble…, well…, at some point it stopped to work…, but that’s a totally different story…

Clothing and hygiene (and extras)

From this list, there are only two things that I never used. The wool jumper, that I took with me thinking that I could need to use it in case I wanted to go out at night, however, something I didn’t know, the bars and pubs in Australia are quite easy going, as long as one isn’t bare chest, and not using flip flops nor bare foot, it’s all fine. And the scarf, I knew that I would get the Autumn time in Melbourne before I came back to Europe, though the temperatures were never that low (and I’m glad for that!).

A mala que levei para a Austrália
The backpack I used in Australia

And the pillow case? Well, it might seem strange, but I gave it in a totally different use that it would be expected. In previous trips I used plastic bags for dirty laundry, the problem with this is that the dirty clothes start to smell a lot, and if mixed with humid clothes, then it’s a disaster! The reason for this is that plastic bags don’t let any air out, nor in. However, with the pillow case, the dirty clothes don’t stink, the wet clothes don’t get a rotten moldy smell…, and the best part is that you can wash the pillow case with the rest of your laundry, which means, you’ll reuse your “dirty laundry bag” and have it clean again! In two months traveling around I doubt one plastic bag would suffice, so this option besides being cheaper and more hygienic, it’s also environmentally friendly 🙂

During two months I met and crossed with a lot of people, and obviously, I also saw a lot of luggage bags. I am proud to say that I never encountered with anyone with less luggage than I! I felt really proud for this, I never felt overpacked, and I never had to use the same clothes twice without having them washed first. However, of course, I had to wash it every 6 days and I had to plan the “washing” according to my adventures too.

What did I buy along the way

Why did I buy some of these things instead of taking them with me? Nail clipper and hygiene products, since I didn’t dispatch any luggage to Australia, only carry-in luggage, I had to leave a few things behind, like liquids and the nail clipper (which we can’t take in the carry-in luggage). And yes, my luggage was that light that I managed to take everything with me!

Regarding the beach towel, that was simply because someone stole my travel towel (or took it by mistake) and I had to buy another one. The sun glasses, I lost the ones I had, and I had to buy new ones…

And the memory cards, I had a few problems with my GoPro, and the technical support told me that the issue was due compatibility between the card and the GoPro. Nope, that wasn’t the problem. The problem was with the cable, I was using a 3rd party cable…, and well, I ended up spending unnecessary money that could be avoided if they knew how to help me properly…

The travel pillows. Well, this was simply an opportunity I got, I found that modular pillow and since it was on sale I decided to take it. It was a great idea, since the other travel pillow was a bit too uncomfortable, I actually slept worse with it than without any pillow…

The bags…, the thermic bag, I guess the reason is obvious, I was jumping from place to place, and trying to save money by cooking meals, so it was handy to have something to keep my food fresh between cities. The other bag? To go on a sailing boat we can’t take any zips! Nothing at all! The reason is that the bed bugs love to hide inside the zips, I have no idea how, and in boats that’s a big problem, so they simply decided to forbid any bags with zips.

So basically I managed to organize myself really well for a long trip, packing really light, and still, I even listed two things that I never used! What can we learn from this? There is always something we can take from our bags, there is always something we won’t need.

For short trips, this isn’t a problem, for a few days if we don’t use everything it also doesn’t hurt to carry the bags. But for 1+ months trip, the weight becomes a problem, and it gets really annoying to pack between cities, and it also gets easier to lose things. The travel luggage is that thing where we have what we need without being a burden, and after a few weeks, trust me, you’ll hate your bag if you have to carry and pack too much…

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Europe Tips and Mistakes

5 Epic Railway Routes in Europe

Some of the most famous railway routes cross entire continents, and for the majority of us time to enjoy properly such an epic trip isn’t easy to have. It isn’t easy to take a full month for holidays, and even though one only needs 7 days to cross Siberia, to enjoy it properly it’s better to take a few stops, and for that 7 days isn’t enough… We need time, always time.

A few years ago I made a dream come true, an Euro-interrail (article in Portuguese). It was my first solo trip which took 10 days on a trip from Germany to Portugal, it was a dream that ended up becoming a reality by chance. The return tickets to Portugal by airplane were way too expensive, much more than 10 days by train through Europe. The decision was easy to make.

This is my first infography (original in Portuguese), with a few suggestions of small train trips in Europe, and obviously with one route in my gorgeous country, Portugal

Europe - Railway Trips
Europe – Railway Trips




Tips and Mistakes

My “Not To Forget” Packing List

Packing to travel is one of the most exciting feelings ever, for me it is even better than booking a flight or the preparation for the trip itself. Packing means I am up to leave, and soon what I have been dreaming for the last weeks will be a reality and that fills me with excitement!

Long trips and small trips have different requirements for packing, but for both we should pack light. After all, we are going on vacations, not carrying our house with us on our back.[TWEETBLOCK text=”Tweet this”]Pack for your travel, not for a travel.[/TWEETBLOCK]

The basics will always be there, underwear, clothing, etc. So it is a bit pointless to think about that, in my opinion the first thing you should think of is what’s your goals, photography? Adventure? Beach? Mountain? That’s what will make the difference and what will make you organize your stuff.

Photography is a passion of mine, although I have a lot to learn but that’s not the point, so making sure I have space for my camera and lenses is mandatory! An adaptor is also important, and considering that I live in Ireland where the plugs are different from the rest of Europe, the adaptor is actually crucial…

Specific clothing, this can be important mostly for longer vacations where easily you overlook some place you’ll end up in. I always take some hiking pants with me, those that you can turn into shorts with the zip. Usually those pants dry really fast, are breathable and very adaptable as well, so I always add them to my list.

I also carry my iPad or iPhone with me, where I’ll store documentation about the places I want to visit, contacts and addresses and scans of my IDs. It is always handy to have a scan of your passport online, you never know what can happen… Better be prepared 🙂

[TWEETBLOCK text=”Tweet this”]Be prepared for not so uncommon complications.[/TWEETBLOCK]

About longer trips, when I have luggage to check in, I also make sure I take with me clothes for at least two days. Unfortunately it can happen that your luggage takes a detour to another exotic destination, and you might stay two or three days without clothes to wear.

When traveling, size always matters! Be careful with more restrictive airlines, you don’t want to end up squeezing stuff inside your carry-on luggage because they require just one piece per person. Also be aware of layovers or transfer flights that are not connected. Sometimes you can pass with some luggage in one flight and not the second one (been there done that…).

About shoes, you’re not going to a party. If you’re going on a short trip, take just the pair you’ll be wearing and get the most comfortable ones. You’ll be wearing it all the time. If you’re going on a longer trip, take no more than one spare pair of shoes, depending on what you’ll do.

And enjoy your trip and don’t forget to relax 🙂



Europe Tips and Mistakes

5 not-so-known places in Portugal you should visit one day!

Have you ever been to Portugal? No? You definitely should get that flight ticket and go there, now! It’s one of the cheapest countries in Europe to visit, it has 800 years of history as a nation plus a few other hundreds of culture and heritage. Lisbon, the capital, is one of the oldest cities in the world, and the oldest in Western Europe! Even older than Rome!

The average temperature in Lisbon, during Winter, is 17º! That’s like Summer for most of European Northern countries! And in average, we have only 82 rainy days, that’s even less than three months a year!

Portugal has culture, has history, has beaches (a loooot), has mountains, you can have adventure and relaxation! You can find it all in that tiny country next to Spain.

So, after this not so short introduction, here’s my list of 5 not-so-known places in Portugal you should visit one day.

5th – Douro Vinhateiro

Douro is the second longest river in Portugal, in the north with its mouth in Oporto city. The Douro Vinhateiro is a long valley which is the region where you can find the vineyards of the famous Porto wine, and where it is produced. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage list.

You’d need a few days to properly explore the region, and to make your life easier, you can find several touristic plans and tours. My recommendation to visit this region is by car, but if you’re a new driver or not used to drive on the right side, then you should be extra careful. Almost all roads are two-ways lanes and quite narrow, through the edge of the valley cliffs. There is also the option to do this route by train or by boat on one of the several river cruises that you can find in Oporto city or Vila Nova de Gaia.

Douro Vineyards
Douro Vineyards, ©Paulo Soares

4th – Viana do Castelo

Viana do Castelo is a small city right in the very north of Portugal, also the seat of the district with the same name. If you like small and cosy cities, Viana do Castelo should be on your list to visit. Besides all that you should expect from a city to relax, certainly you will be surprised by some familiar architecture. The Saint Luzia Basilica will for sure catch your attention, placed in a very high and visible part of the city, it is quite similar to the famous Sacré Coeur Basilica in Paris, however, unlike most people think, this one isn’t a copy as the project for this Basilica was draft before Sacré Coeur being even built.

Those that are more into architecture might also notice that there is another landmark with characteristic lines, the railway bridge, which is also a work of Eiffel’s house.

180.2011 ©Francisco Oliveira

3rd – Almeida

I don’t remember when was the last time I visited this small town, but I still remember that I was quite impressed by it. It is for sure a place to visit by all of those that like warlike architecture. Almeida is a star shape fort-village part of a group of 3 medieval villages (from the same municipality), located to form a strategic defense of the Côa river’s valley. Besides its cultural importance, this village isn’t an UNESCO World Heritage, however it is recognized as National Heritage since 1928.

After your visit to the Douro Vinhateiro, you can do a detour to Almeida, I can assure you won’t regret it 🙂

Almeida - Guarda Portugal
Almeida – Guarda Portugal ©[email protected]

2nd Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast

A really nice area in Portugal for those who like less crowded beaches even desert beaches, with several cosy villages and small towns, a huge natural park and much more to explore. It is an amazing area for those who love Nature, and tanking into account Portugal’s climate, it is also really inviting for ciclo-tourism 🙂

On of my favorite places in the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast is the Pessegueiro Island (direct translation would be peach tree) where you can find a 500 years old fort. On the opposite side of the Natural Park you can find the Cape St. Vincent, in  Portugal’s Southwest, very close to Sagres Fort.

Monte Clerigo beach. Costa Vicentina. Portugal.
Monte Clerigo beach. Costa Vicentina. Portugal. ©Ricardo Fernandez

1st – Óbidos

I left my favorite town for last. Since I was a kid that I go to Óbidos, my summer holidays were spent very close to this beautiful town, so often we used to go there to spend just a few hours. Óbidos is a castle-town, the name comes from the latin ópido which means citadel. It is easy to get there from Lisbon either by train or car, the trip by train takes a while, but it totally worths the waiting. The ideal would be letting yourselves get lost through the narrow streets, walk through the walls and visit the castle. Outside the walls you can also visit the Aqueduct. And if you go in March, don’t miss the Chocolate Festival, it is getting very touristic nowadays, but it is still an experience mostly for those who love chocolate. But who doesn’t anyway? 🙂

Óbidos ©Francisco Bernardo

I hope you like this list, it is just a list of a few places to visit in Portugal besides the most popular ones, which also should be visited 🙂 They are popular for a reason 🙂

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5 not-so-known places in Portugal you should visit one day!

Europe Tips and Mistakes

What did I take with me to Romania?

I’m going to start a new kind of posts, posts where I’ll share how I packed for a trip and how wise or not I’ve been. Romania was my last trip, I arrived back home last Wednesday, and I think I learned a few things with that trip and how to pack.

So, organizing items by category, here they are.


  • Nikon DF5100 + kit lens + 70-300mm lens
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • Universal Adaptor
  • Chargers

All of this was important to take, thankfully I didn’t forget any nor while packing, nor when coming back. I was in doubt about the 70-300mm lens, with all the stuff I had to pack and the fact that I only had carry on luggage, I almost left it home. I used it a few times, I’m still not sure if it was wise or not, but considering that I used it a few times maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea.

Clothing and Hygiene

  • Personal hygiene stuff
  • Underwear for 5 days
  • 4 t-shirts
  • 1 short sleeve shirt
  • 1 long sleeve t-shirt
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 swimming shorts
  • 1 bath towel
  • 1 beach towel
  • *1 shorts
  • *Underwear
  • *1 t-shirt
  • *1 long sleeve t-shirt
  • *1 pair of hiking shoes

*clothing I was wearing on the departure day

Ok, this time I had some thought about what to pack, but it wasn’t enough. I had to think for 9 days, counting with departure and returning days. I also knew that the chances to have a weekend away were quite high, that was part of the drafted plan. So, I packed enough until Sunday (the returning day), and I could do laundry to have exactly what I needed until the departure. This was perfect, nothing failed with this part! But almost did, due to hot weather I could actually have an extra shower every now and then 😛
About the swimming wear, this ended up not being necessary due to the bad weather. It failed, but not the packing. I was prepared, just the weather screw our plans.
About the towels…, this was unnecessary. On vacations one should not be picky. Why would I have a bath and a beach towel? This wasn’t a good idea…
The long sleeve t-shirts, I was wearing one on the departure day and I had an extra one that I didn’t even unfolded… Too much. And considering that I also had a hoodie, that was indeed not a wise thing to pack.

What I could have packed?

I knew that the weather wouldn’t be too cold, at least not as cold as Ireland. And I packed a pair of jeans. I wore it, a few times. It was useful, but not wise. We ended up going to the mountains as an alternative plan, and hiking pants there would be way more handy. Even better if hiking pants that can be turned into shorts. That would actually use less space than jeans.

I didn’t miss anything else besides this, so, overall I think my packing wasn’t that bad 🙂

Tips and Mistakes

Planning vs Preparing

I used to be a planning-freak, I had to prepare all the details, plan A, B and even a “When everything fails” plan. A friend of mine changed my mind when I did my inter-rail (PT), and almost everything failed! After that I became the opposite, the guy that never prepares nor plans anything! Like everything in life, extremes are not way to go… So I have to readjust (yes, I am using the present tense here).

Planning a trip

One thing you should know about plans, they often fail!

Nothing happens like planned, there are always details that we forget to think about, there are always new things we discover on the way that we want to try that will bend our plans. So, from my perspective, planning is a bit pointless and it spoils a lot the adventure that it is traveling.

Planning a trip also can lead to frustration, mostly if you are traveling with more people. You want your plans to be as perfect as possible, but it is quite hard to handle with different opinions and different moods. Even if you plan your trip together with your friends, there is always that person that wants to try something out of the blue, or that person that wakes up late, or that forgets something important. And these small details, that could make an adventure, often result in unnecessary argues and even more time wasted with pointless stresses.

Planning can also mean tight schedules, and again, hard to bend if we are relaxing at some place but we have to take that bus to point B. One thing I learned with my trips, is that it is impossible to see all I want to see, so it’s better to enjoy the moment and keep the memories of good moments than returning totally exhausted with the feeling that it was just a dream.

Milan Main Train Station
Milan Main Train Station

Preparing a trip

Preparing however, it is almost crucial for me. I don’t mean to be a freak, and read all the guide books and blogs, and spend hours researching, but you should have an idea of what it is around where you want to go.

My last trip, to Japan, I missed a place that I really would love to see and I just didn’t because I didn’t prepare my trip. When I came back to Ireland and I saw that that place was so close to where I was, I kind of felt sad, but then I also had a lot of fun.

It is important to know what you can see, not in an obsessive way that might even spoil the surprise element, but due several factors you might want to know about those other places.

So, these are my tips to prepare a trip:

  • In my opinion it is important to get at least two guide books, and read through them. Using these guides you can get an idea of where you wanna go, which part of the country you want to explore and what you can see there;
  • Having that as a starting point, it is important to know what’s around those places, some times you get to know about less touristic things that you would totally do, like some hiking trail, or night-photo walks, etc;
  • Some safety tips are always welcome. You should research a bit about that, some countries are less safe than others, and there are some small details that can make a huge difference;
  • Health precautions and vaccination. Some countries require some vaccination prior the arrival, contact your doctor or look for a tropical medical bureau, they’ll know how to advise you;
  • Visa requirements, this might seem obvious, but a lot of people assume that for tourism they don’t need a visa. That depends on your nationality and the country you want to visit;
  • Just in case, get some money of the local currency. It happened to me in Peru that all the ATM at the airport were out of money, and sometimes that might not be the ideal. Usually taxi drivers are quite ok with that and they drop you next to an ATM, but if you can avoid that, even better;

Trying to summarize a bit, almost all what I’ve written is common sense, but for me what can improve the experience by knowing what’s around to visit. In Japan even with almost nonexistent plans, I had to change them anyway because of the weather, I still had a lot of fun, but instead of trying to figure out what to do, the decision to go to place X would be easier.

Also, talk with locals! Touristic guides usually are really helpful, but they are for tourists. If you want to experience the culture, no one’s better than the locals to give you tips. Interact with them, ask them what can you do for the day, tell them who you are and they’ll tell you what you can do.

And as a conclusion, my last tip is to be spontaneous! Do things out of the blue, and be open for surprises 🙂

A trip without surprises is worthless to share.

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Planning vs Preparing