What you should do before booking your next vacation

Amsterdam bike tour

Booking a vacation has never been easier than it is today. A few searches online, drop your package into the cart and whip out your credit card.

Et viola, you are booked!

Here are some things to consider before booking your next vacation though, so you are totally ready to go once the time comes.

Decide what kind of vacation you want

Are you hoping to spend your time relaxing on the beach or by the pool, sipping fruity drinks with umbrellas in them? Do you want your biggest mental challenge to be which buffet to pick for lunch?

Or maybe you want to spend the entire trip immersing yourself in the cultural of a new city or country. Your idea of fun is to take a bike tour of a city while hearing about the history on every corner and then grabbing a snack at a busy streetside cafe with the locals.

Make sure you pick a destination that suits your style.

Research your chosen destination

Now that you have decided on a destination do some research to determine the best time of year to go depending on your priorities.

For example, if laying on the beach is your plan then you will want to check average temperatures and weather patterns and pick the best time.

Or maybe your budget is the major concern.  In most tourists spots you can hit a ‘fringe’ season as most locations have discounts if you go just before or just after the major tourist season.

Book ahead

Many rental and tour companies offer discounts for booking online or booking ahead.

If your itinerary is set then booking your walking tour before you leave home can save you money.

Sometimes even booking the same day but buying online can save some cash. Don’t be on the one who paid the most to get on your tour bus!

Check it out at home before you go and be sure to review the cancellation policy, just in case.

Get in shape

Nothing can wreck your bike tour of Amsterdam faster than not being able to make it up the first hill you get to.

Be realistic about your level of fitness before you book your trip to hike the Inca trail or you will have wasted your money. If your goal is to hike up Kilimanjaro then you are going to need to do preparation before you get there and start hiking in your local area.

If your goal is to lose a few pounds and get active before your trip, consider a protein shake diet and start at least 90 days before you leave.

Buy the right gear

Depending on what style of vacation you have planned you will probably need to buy a few new things in preparation for your trip.

Start with a great new classy carry on bag to get you there in style. Depending on your plan, this bag can double as a beach bag or a backpack for day excursions.

If you are headed to the beach then you will want to grab a couple of new swimsuits and these can be hard to find in the middle of winter at your local store so plan ahead.

If you are planning on lots of hiking or walking then be sure to break in your footwear well in advance. Wearing a brand new pair of hiking boots for the first time isn’t always pleasant and you don’t want to be dealing with blisters while on vacation.

Once you have done all your advance preparation then just relax and enjoy your trip. You will have a much better experience with a little advanced planning and you will be ready for your adventure.




Three good reasons to visit Museum Plein this fall

Museum Plein in Fall

There’s always plenty of  great reasons to head over to Amsterdam and visit the historical treasure trove of Museum Plein but fall has some of its own unique reasons to make the journey.

1. Its cheaper

Fall in Amsterdam is a beautiful time with all the beautiful fall colors associated with the change of seasons. However, the weather is very unpredictable and can range from pretty well perfect to miserably rainy and cold. Average temperatures are in the mid 60’s Fahrenheit but can be much warmer or colder.

This leads to the great price incentives for flights, hotels and venues that the savvy traveller can take advantage of and save big.

2. Great Food

The food in Amsterdam is always good but as the fall seasonal fare is exceptionally comforting and delicious.

A traditional cool weather staple is stampott which is a delicious cabbage, potato, and winter greens blend served alongside a rich sausage. It’s truly divine and a great reason to be in Amsterdam in fall.

There are also a variety of apple tarts and pie that take advantage of the fall harvest of apples are really decadent treats for apple pie lovers.

Always popular are the Dutch pancakes which can be topped with almost anything from goat cheese and spinach to ham and camembert for perfect fall inspired treats. I like to have a light whey protein shake like Myotein XPI for breakfast before venturing off into the high calorie lunch and dinner treats to reduce the guilt!

3. Museumnacht

Probably the biggest draw for museum goers it is literally translated to Museum Night and occurs the first Saturday in November.

Over 40 museums participate and they each offer some kind of unique one time only event. These can range from poetry readings to live DJ dance music performances.

Its an amazing way to see some of the great Amsterdam museums and also partake in a city wide festival.

Enjoy your trip to Amsterdam this fall!







Check out my top five ways to save money in Museum Plein Amsterdam!


Museum Plein is home to the three most important museums in Amsterdam. These include the Rijksmuseum, the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art and the Van Gogh Museum and makes this an art lover’s paradise.
Of course the best way to really experience the most of the city’s cultural is to stay right in the heart but if you are anything like me you probably still need to watch your budget! So, here are my tips on how to experience the best of Amsterdam without breaking the bank.

1. Choose your hotel carefully:

Museum Plein has a wide variety of accommodation options available to travellers. There are some very high end luxury hotels like the Conservatorium which can cost anywhere from 500 euros per night and up, depending on rooms and options.

There are also some smaller boutique hotels which will come in around the same price and most offer breakfast as well.
There are a few budget hotels such as the Owl Hotel, which offer basic amenities for about 50 euros a night for a single.
By far the best way to save money here though is to check out the hostels, especially if you are travelling with friends. You can book a four bed hostel room with a private bathroom for 100 euro, split four ways you only pay 25 euro each and use your savings for admissions!

2. Go to free attractions:

Amsterdam is filled with open air markets and gardens and it would be easy to spend an entire day window shopping without spending a dime.
If you like boating you can get out onto the canals and waterway for free by taking a ride on the Buikersloterwegveer ferry, it’s a short five minute ride but offers spectacular view.
There are also many free concerts available to attend during lunch hour in the park. The Concertgebouw is famous for its free lunchtime concerts but don’t forget to book early as attendance is limited. The orchestra occasionally plays outdoors as well so check their schedule.
You can also go to the beach, Blijburg aan Zee is a great beach right in the city and always has a busy schedule of activities.

3. Eat in or have a picnic:

Eating is a major expense for any traveller but there are plenty of ways to keep the costs downa nd I personally get sick of eating out after a few days.

Always try to find accommodation with breakfast included whenever possible but if not then be prepared to make something of your own. One of my favourite travel breakfasts is a protein powder shake like Dymatize Iso100 because there is no need to refrigerate. Just add water to your favorite protein powder flavor and shake it up. Breakfast is done and you will be energized for your sightseeing.
Lunch can be as easy as heading to one of the great markets and grabbing some bread, local cheese and meat. You can grab a couple of beers or a bottle of wine and then make your own picnic in the park.
With all the money you saved on breakfast and lunch, you can afford to have a nice dinner at a café or pub before your night out on the town. Or if you prefer, there are also plenty of street vendors offering up yummy treats like kebabs and frites covered in mayonnaise.

4. Walk, bike or take transit:

Staying right in Museum Plein means you are never too far away from the major attractions and most will be in walking distance. There are free maps of the city online that you can print and take or grab one from the tourist office.
Another great option is rent a bike for the day or half day. Biking is a popular form of transportation in much of Europe and Amsterdam is no exception. There are multiple pick up and drop off locations all over town and you can drop off anywhere. Pick up from one location and drop off at another, it’s all very flexible. There are also some great guided bike tours for around 20 euros you will get a 3 hour guided tour of the city. It’s a great idea for your first day to help get the lay of the land.
Amsterdam has a chip card system for their trains and is the required form of payment. You can pick one up at the tourist office and use it for your entire trip, everything is rated based on distance so don’t forget to swipe out when you exit the system or you will be billed the maximum of 4 euros.

5. Get a discount card and save big:

There are three basic discount cards for Amsterdam and they were made for museum lovers!

  • Amsterdam Holland Pass– this is an incredible bargain that is totally customizable depending on what you want to do while visiting the city. It is a free airport transfer and also allows free transit for a specific period of time. In addition you will receive free passes to many of the major museums and this include VIP access which means no line ups! Check out their website for more information.
  • iAmsterdam city card- this is also a great value and provide a ton of free and discounted museum entries, bike rentals, transit access and discounts at some shops and markets.
  • Museumkaart- this is a year long free admission pass to over 400 Amsterdam museums and depending on how many you plan to tour during your stay it may be the best choice.
    Check out each website and plan according to your interests and length of stay.

I hope these tips help you save your money for the best museum tours possible during your upcoming trip to Amsterdam!