Day Trip: Bruges, Belgium

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If you are planning a trip to Brussels, there is no question that you need to carve out a day to make your way North to the quaint city of Bruges. Most recognized as the “Venice of the North”, this canal-based city features the most picturesque buildings, tons of charming little shops to grab a cup of tea or a waffle, and local vendors selling everything from world-famous chocolates to lace.

Getting to Bruges from Brussels is super easy. From our hotel, the Hotel Amigo, in Grand Place, you take a quick walk to Bruxelles-Central and hop on any one of the number of trains to Bruges. Tickets cost roughly €7-€15, and the ride is only a little over an hour long. If you’re looking to book tickets in advance, you can always check out the time tables and do so here.

Once you’re at the Bruges station, it is only another 15-20 minute walk (depending if you stop for photos) to the historic city center. Plan to make plenty of stops along the way to spots like the 13th century Belfort, Groeningemuseum for those of you who are art buffs, and St. Salvator’s Cathedral. In between landmarks, there are countless bridges, historic facades and courtyards to wander into.

For you foodies, a few of my favorite spots are: Le Mystique, Hertog Jan, and Belgian Pigeon House. If you’re looking for chocolate, I recommend checking out: The Chocolate Line (I don’t care how touristy it is – it’s amazing!), BbyB, and Dumon. Have a must see spot in Bruges? Leave me a comment for my next trip back ;).

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Don’t Fail to Prepare: Part III

Tomorrow, the journey begins! First stop, L.A. and a brief visit with my dear friend Malcolm, then it’s off to Narita Airport—Tokyo. I’ve been running around today taking care of last minute details. So here’s the skinny on what needs to be done the last few days before your trip.

last minute travel, japan rail pass

Grab any last minute necessities. After a few days in California, I noticed a few things I was missing: socks, converters for my electronics, and I also needed to pick up an exchange order for a Japanese Rail Pass. First stop, I snagged some climatecool socks from Adidas that are odor resistant; they will be perfect for those hot days hiking around Thailand and Vietnam, and Bali. Next, I went to RadioShack where I picked up a pack of travel adapters that hopefully work in every country I am going to over in Asia. Fingers crossed that I have them all covered. The Japanese Rail Pass exchange order is very important. As a U.S. Citizen you cannot purchase an exchange order overseas, so it must be procured in the U.S. I bought mine on http://www.jrpass.com. They deliver it Priority Overnight via FedEx, so you get it quick and easy.

Make copies. One of the next things to do is to make copies of your passport photo page and all of your visas. Obviously, you aren’t planning on losing your passport, but storing copies of your passport and visas through your luggage is helpful just in case. I also left a copy with my friend Malcolm. It is also important to take digital copies on your phone, and keep them on your computer as well. The more places you have them, and the more people who have access to them, the better off you are.

passport, travel preparation, visas

Call your cell provider. If you’re like me, you’ll want to make sure you can stay connected to friends and family to check in on the road. In addition to my dummy phone that I can insert different SIM cards into, I am bringing my iPhone. Even though you have a phone that works internationally, you still need to call your provider to tell them to activate your international antenna. Without doing so, you could be disconnected a little longer than you would like. Try to do this three days in advance of your trip.

Purchase Travel Insurance. Even if you are perfectly healthy and in good physical shape, travel insurance is a necessity. It’s important to note that travel insurance is far beyond just medical coverage, it also covers cancellations, lost or stolen goods, legal expenses, and emergencies beyond medical emergencies, such as military conflict in the country you are in. The insurance provider I chose to go with is World Nomads. The great thing about World Nomads is that you can purchase your policy online in less than 5 minutes. Seriously! My 3-month coverage plan only cost me $187, and that covers up to $100,000 in medical expenses. Trust me when I say, this will be the best money you have spent on your trip. You never know what can happen, and it’s always better to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

Can’t wait to start posting abroad soon.

See you on the flip side, xoxo.