We are in Austria and are having a bit of a break day. After having pretty good weather for the last month and a bit, we are now suffering from clouds and rain. In short, it’s a great time to look back at what we have done so far. Here is the 9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1 with a recap of the first 15 days of our epic road trip.

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1

Considering we did a whole lot of sightseeing during our road trip, it’s way too much to dump into one post. I’ve decided to split this post into 5 posts.The first 4 will contain the day-to-day recap of the trip (about ~15 days each). The final one will deal with the finances. I perhaps will make one about Airbnb too, about being both as a host as well as a user. Learned quite a few interesting things over the last weeks.

Any how, below is the recap of the first 15 days of the road trip. Enjoy!

Day 1 – Trip to Maastricht

It’s Sunday April 22 and we are ready to go! We tried to limit the amount of stuff we wanted to bring, but wanted to be ready for most situations one can encounter during Airbnb stays. You really never know what you are going to get :-). So we brought extra towels, bed linen, some useful items such as a sponge, kitchen cloths, matches/light, dish washing soap, etc. Smart thing that we did!

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: The Start!

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: The Start!

Day 1 we started late and had a long drive. We ended the first day with dinner at friends in Maastricht. Pretty relaxed and nice day to start the road trip!

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Pretty end of the day.

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Pretty end of the day.

Day 2 – Trip to Fairy Tale Forest (Valkenburg)

Since we are travelling with our 4,5 year old, we had to incorporate some entertainment for her too. That is why we started with “sprookjesbos”  (Fairy Tale Forest) in Valkenburg. We were a bit too enthusiastic and got there before the gates even opened! So we had cart place to ourselves 🙂

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Sprookjesbos Valkenburg

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Sprookjesbos Valkenburg

Day 3 – Trip to Luxembourg

Having been to Belgium already many times before (see here and here for a few). We decided to drive straight through to Luxembourg to make some distance. However, we did visit La Roche de Ardenne during they day and visited it’s castle ruins.

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Church in La Roche en Ardenne

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Church in La Roche en Ardenne

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Castle ruins in La Roche en Ardenne

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Castle ruins in La Roche en Ardenne

Day 4 – Trip to Luxembourg City

On day 4 we drive from northern Luxembourg, via Luxembourg City to Northern France. During the day we visited another castle ruin (this time in Esch-sur-Sûre) and Luxembourg City itself. Due to the bad (rainy) weather (and a tired kid) the amount of things we could see and do in Luxembourg City were limited. It was still a fun and interesting visit.

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Castle Ruins Esch-Sur-Sure

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Castle Ruins Esch-Sur-Sure

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Luxembourg City

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Luxembourg City

Day 5 – Trip to Chateau des Ducs de Lorraine

During our first day in northern France we visited yet another castle ruins (the little one liked them, so we just keep going!). This time we visited Chateau des Ducs de Lorraine, this is located in the small town of Sierck-les-Bains. The town is not very special, but the ruins are well maintained and take about an 1-1,5 hours to visit.

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Chateau des Ducs de Lorraine

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Chateau des Ducs de Lorraine

Day 6 – Travel to Gérardmer (Parc Vosges)

On day 6 we drove quite a bit. On one of our first stops we visited Pont-à-Mousson and had a quick look at (the outside of) Abbaye des Prémontrés. Next we drove onward and explored a waterfall called “Grande cascade de Tendon”. This is located at the small town of Le Creux on the D11 road towards Gérardmer. We finished the day with stay at the lake. The Vosges parc was known to us only by name, as many people visit this area and spoke highly about it. They were right!

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Le Grand Cascade

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Le Grand Cascade de Tendon

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Lake Gérardmer

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Lake Gérardmer

Day 7 – City Visit to Luxeuil-les-Bains

During our travels this day we visited the city of Luxeuil-les-Bains, a lovely place to stroll around for a couple of hours and get an ice-cream!

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Luxeuil-les-Bains

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Luxeuil-les-Bains

Day 8 – City Visit in Besançon

More city visits, this time in Besançon on our way to the Jura Mountains and Lake Geneva. There was a flea market in the city streets that day and we found some new records for the jukebox. We also got a puzzle for Miss CF to use during the trip. It still fitted in the small suitcase we got for her to put all her toys in.

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Besançon

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Besançon

Day 9 – Jura Mountains and Lake Geneva

The highlight of day 9 was a small mountain lake (Lac de Lamoura) and a mountain pass (Col de la Faucille) with a gorgeous view of Lake Geneva.

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Lac de Lamoura

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Lac de Lamoura

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Col de la Faucille

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Col de la Faucille

We actually ended up reaching the southern shores of Lake Geneva later that day.

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Lake Geneva

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Lake Geneva

Day 10 – Évian-les-Bains & Switzerland

This day we took a drive towards Switzerland and walked across the border (just for the fun of it) at Saint-Gingolph. For cars on the main road there is a border patrol check, for pedestrians it looks like this:

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: French - Swiss border crossing

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: French – Swiss border crossing

During the day we also visited the source of the Evian water in Évian-les-Bains. The company still has an office here too.

Day 11 – Swimming and Lac de Bourget

After our visit to Lake Geneva we continued our travels in the direction of the south coast of France (Cote d’azur). But since the little one showed signs of being tired, we stopped for a swim and did a short lake visit in the afternoon at lake de Bourget.

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Lac du Bourget

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Lac du Bourget

Day 12 – Serres & Gorges de la Méouge

More traveling southward. We did not expect much this day, as we had not seen any special places based on our route. Boy were we wrong! First we drove into the town of Serres and got this awesome view. Added an ice-cream to make it perfect.

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Serres

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Serres

Next we found the Gorges de la Méouge, a small car park along the road and short trail got us to a few falls and a nice area to enjoy nature.

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Gorges de la Méouge

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Gorges de la Méouge

Day 13 – Gorges du Verdon

The “Grand Canyon” of Europe is call the Gorges du Verdon, and it’s awesome! It certainly is not as big as the actual grand canyon, but it is really pretty with the blue water and the big lake. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. Good hiking in the area too.

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Gorge Du Verdon from above

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Gorge Du Verdon from above

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Gorge Du Verdon from below

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Gorge Du Verdon from below

Day 14 – St. Tropez

I always wanted to to go St. Tropez, the name alone is cool. Albeit we did not spend much time in the village (tired kid and not enough cash for parking!), we did go to the beach at the outskirts and visited the citadel in the center of town.

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: St. Tropez

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: St. Tropez

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: The Citadel of St. Tropez

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: The Citadel of St. Tropez

Day 15 – Beach day in Sainte-Maxime

Even during a slow travel road trip, you need a break day on occasion. That’s what we did in Sainte-Maxime. It was good, albeit still pretty cold water at this time of year!

9 Week Road Trip Report - Part 1: Break day at the beach in Sainte-Maxime

9 Week Road Trip Report – Part 1: Break day at the beach in Sainte-Maxime


That’s it for now. It’s just waiting for the next rainy day, or until we are home, before I can make the rest.

In the mean time, enjoy your own travels and/or travel planning!

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As some of you might recall, we will be going on a 9 week road trip through Europe. Why? Because it’s very difficult to do this again once our little one goes to school mandatorily (as of age 5). But mostly because it’s great fun. Like most of you probably agree, some of the fun is in the preparation of the trip. The 9 Week Road Trip Itinerary presented here is a rough indication of where we would like to go. We will remain flexible during the trip and will switch directions based on weather, preferences, limitations or other life events that will happen.

The 9 Week Road Trip Itinerary

The current plan is to leave mid April and return late June. We will thus have a total of up to about 63 days to play with. That is quite a bit of time! Now, travel insurance wise (at least for the one we are considering) you are allowed to do continuous travel for 60 days. In short, if we do stretch to the max we should not do any weird things in the last few days 🙂

Miss CF is a typical kid, so she’s generally not very good at sitting still (sounds familiar?). We therefore want to limit our daily travels to about 2-3 hours of driving per day maximum. In reality we will have days we drive more and days we drive less (or not at all). Assuming an average speed of 50 km/h that gives us about 100-ish km per day on average. That would be about 6.000-6.500 km in total.

Considering this will be a “slow travel” type trip (i.e. it’s about the journey not the destination), we will do the exploring along the route and at places where we spend the night. Let’s assume we need about 80% of the km to make “the journey” and 20% of the km to do local sightseeing. This is what we came up with for the journey (~5.000 km or 3.000 mi):

The 9 Week Road Trip Itinerary - Rough Route

The 9 Week Road Trip Itinerary – Rough Route


We will obviously start in the Netherlands and head so the south of the country. We will likely meet with some friends that live in Maastricht. Perhaps we stay a day or two before we head further south.

Holiday Destination Maastricht

The 9 Week Road Trip Itinerary: Maastricht
Source: http://www.vvvlimburg.nl/regio-vvvs/maastricht/


We have done several holidays and meetups in Belgium already, so will likey skip through the country and head straight to Luxembourg. As we have not looked for accommodations, we might still spend the night in Belgium instead of Luxembourg, depends on what we can find on AirBnB or otherwise.


It’s been a while since I have bee in Luxembourg, actually we have never been there as a couple. The county is pretty small, but has nice nature areas as well as a pretty capital. We also need to go there for Mrs. CF as she will need to meet people for business purposes too. Should only take an hour or so, gives us a good reason to explore the capital city and the country!

The 9 Week Road Trip Itinerary: Luxembourg

The 9 Week Road Trip Itinerary: Luxembourg
Source: http://airlines-airports.com/klm-office-in-luxembourg-luxembourg/


Once we leave Luxembourg we will head towards Lausanne in Switzerland. To get there we will drive a couple of days through northern France. There are some nice nature areas where we might try go for a few walks and try to stay the night. We will also do the same on the way to Monaco. Southern France is really nice and can be very well enjoyed when doing slow travel. We will take a more rural route here with lots of hiking (if all goes well).


We have both been to Switzerland on a couple occasions for both hiking holidays and winter fun. We drove by Lake Lausanne before and really would like to return. So decide to try and make this a stop for the trip and spend some time in the area. Once we leave here we would like to head towards Monaco via a lot more of France.

The 9 week road trip Itinerary - Lausanne

The 9 week road trip Itinerary – Lausanne
Source: http://metro.co.uk/2015/11/01/why-lausanne-not-paris-or-amsterdam-should-be-your-next-city-break-5461449/


Monaco is a bucket list item from Mr. CF. Initially I wanted to combine with the Formula 1 event. Albeit the chance of that happening is rather slim, as the event is in late May and we would like to see as much as possible in a non-rushed way. Guess there is always a next time!


Italy is a country that for some reason we missed a lot during out travels in Europe. So it is time to catch up and spend a few weeks in this lovely country. The rough idea is to travel along the coast line to Genoa and head to Rome via Florence. Next the plan is to drive to the other side of the country, hop on a ferry and sail to Croatia.

The 9 week road trip Itinerary - Italy Genoa

The 9 week road trip Itinerary – Italy Genoa
Source: http://www.citalia.com/holidays/italy/liguria/genoa/


Several people we know have already visited Croatia, heck I even had colleagues from this country. Not one person I spoke had a bad thing to say about the place! It’s got a great coastline (snorkeling??) and nice nature parks more inland. Add in some nice cultural spots and you have a recipe for a great time.

The 9 week road trip Itinerary - Croatia

The 9 week road trip Itinerary – Croatia


This is a completely new country for us, we really need to do some homework here. But we got triggered to visit this country after a documentary we watched by Michael Moore (“where to invade next“). If you have experiences here, please do share!

The 9 week road trip Itinerary - Slovenia

The 9 week road trip Itinerary – Slovenia
Source: https://www.slovenia.info/en/places-to-go/regions/alpine-slovenia


From Slovenia we will likely drive towards Budapest for a city trip and some other local site seeing. Hungary is also a new country for us to visit with lots of things to learn and explore. From here we plan to go to Vienna (Austria) via Slovakia.

The 9 week road trip Itinerary - Budapest

The 9 week road trip Itinerary – Budapest
Source: https://www.flixbus.com/bus-schedule-bus-stop/budapest


On our way from Budapest to Vienna, we have the opportunity to explore yet another country we know little about. The plan is to drive through Slovakia and visit Bratislava for some more cultural exposure. Not sure what to expect, but it’s bound to be good.


Vienna has been on the list to visit as well. We have been in the area, but never made the time to actually visit the city. When we go to Austria we normally go for hiking, during such active holiday we tended to avoid bigger cities. This time around we won’t do so much hiking (Miss CF is not grownup enough yet), so city trips make more sense! Once we leave Vienna we will head north to Prague in the Czech Republic.

Czech Republic

Both our mom’s have visited Prague before and were quite enthusiastic about the city. So if we have enough time on the way back, the plan is to visit the Czech Republic and explore yet another country we have not been.

The 9 Week Road Trip Itinerary: Czech Republic

The 9 Week Road Trip Itinerary: Czech Republic
Source: https://www.flixbus.com/holiday-destinations/czech-republic


On the final leg of the journey we will be travelling through Germany. Depending on how much time we have left, we will spend some time exploring the central areas in Germany. As Mrs. CF’s company also has offices in Germany, we might need to do a quick stop in Frankfurt for a quick business meeting. We are very familiar with Germany and have been there several times before, so it should be smooth sailing for this part of the trip. We know we are in for a good time!


In short the idea for this trip is:

  • Visit up to 13 countries;
  • Visit up to 5 new countries;
  • Up to 6500 km of driving;
  • We are aiming to spend up to €150/day all-in = max. budget of €10.000;
  • Many, many photos; and,
  • One heck of a good time!


Bring on all your tips, tricks and idea folks!

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We have a reader question for your for today. We are doing pretty good on the savings rate side of things at the moment, but that is about to change next year. We are planning for a 9 week holiday in 2018. The plan is to go road tripping through southern Europe. But this also means 2 months of unpaid leave for Mr. CF. Mrs. CF is going to have 2 months of paid leave instead of her cash bonus (sweet deal!). In short, the savings rate is going to be far from stellar in 2018. Furthermore, Mr. CF is likely to also quite his job in the second half of 2018 (about a 1 year delay). We therefore have the following Reader Question: Shall we do a Christmas Holiday Trip?

A Christmas Holiday Trip?

We could just ignore all our dilemmas and just splurge on our third vacation of 2017. But that’s not us. Here are our dilemmas:

  1. We are off work over the holiday season (mandatory paid time off). We will be off from Friday December 22, 2017 until January 1, 2018; a nice 11 days without having to lift a finger. It would only cost a bit of money to actually travel and spent Christmas somewhere warm for a change;
  2. If we do, how much money would be reasonable for this trip?
  3. If we want to go somewhere warm, we would need to fly. This obviously has a big environmental impact, should be pay some extra and compensate our emissions?
  4. Where do we want to go? Considering Miss CF is not good at sitting still, we want to keep the travel time limited. This pretty much limits our options to places like Portugal, Spain, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Morocco and perhaps even Dubai.
Reader Question - Spain

Reader Question – Spain
Source: https://www.clickstay.com/blog/6-reasons-for-a-friends-holiday-to-spain

Dilemma 1 & 2: Money

Simple fact is that we still have some budget for this year to travel, despite our 2 earlier holidays to Belgium and Germany. MoneyIf we don’t use the available budget, the savings rate just goes up further and we have more breathing room in 2018 for the long road trip. It would basically provide a buffer for next year. Can we miss the money, sure. But would it help us next year, absolutely!

How much money do we have available? Ideally we would want to limit the costs to about €1000 for the 3 of us for 6-7 days (so about €150/day). This might be tough (if even possible?) and won’t be very luxurious, but that fine with us. If we would go “fancy” we could stretch this to €1500.

What would you do?

Dilemma 3: Emissions Compensation

This dilemma ultimately revolves around money again. As compensation of emission from flying can be done by simply spending some more money. The costs of compensation for 3 people flying to Lisbon (Portugal) from Amsterdam, in Economy, would just be about €12 via Greenseats and €24 via Treesforall. Not really shocking amounts! Should be a no brainer, really, to compensate about 2-3t of CO2 from flying.

Reader Question - Emissions Compensation

Reader Question – Emissions Compensation
Source: https://lu.myclimate.org/private-clients/


What do you think, any other options/alternatives?

Dilemma 4: Locations!

Now this is a dilemma and a challenge all at the same time! Ideally we want to fly from Amsterdam, Rotterdam or Eindhoven. Those are places we can get to quick quickly via public transport or by cab. We could move out further to Dusseldorf or Brussels, but that would take away precious time travelling without seeing anything, but might have a potential for lower costs.

Let’s assume we limit the costs for travel and accommodation to about €800 and leave about €400 for food, attractions and trips. Based on a quick search we did, Dubai seems to be out of the question (too expensive). Portugal and Spain are good options but we might need to book flights ourselves in combo with AirBnB.

So far I was not able to find deals that fitted the financial criteria. Perhaps I’m aiming too high (or low) for a holiday during a school holiday and the Christmas season? We are also opting to see if you can purchase a last-minute within 1-3 days of travelling, never done something like it before. Could be cool! It also does not fix the destination until the “the last minute”.

Reader Question - Dubai

Reader Question – Dubai
Source: https://www.viatorcom.nl/nl/7381/tours/Dubai/Helicopter-Flight-in-Dubai/d828-6267HELIDUBAI


So, our beloved readers, pitch in some ideas! Would love some feedback and ideas. Do keep in mind that we would like to go to a place that is relatively warm and (preferably) dry. Have had enough grey and wet weather for now…..

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It already seems like ages ago, but it was only 3 weeks since we were celebrating our holiday in Germany. It was yet another “holiday on a budget”, similar to the one we did in Belgium earlier this year. This was somewhat intentional, as we are well aware that little Miss CF does not need much to be happy. Actually, it makes her happy just to get attention, we don’t need to travel far or fancy to have a great time. She also does not like to sit in a car very long, so we are currently limiting our holidays within about 4 hours drive from where we live.

There is definitely a win-win here, great holidays, little travel and a limited budget impact.

Holiday in Germany

Germany is a great country to visit. It has lots of culture, great food and drinks and enough entertainment to make every one happy. We tried to balance the cultural side with some activities and fun things for Miss CF. Seems like we managed it again. Below is a random collection of some of the things we have seen and done.


Holiday in Germany: Bad-Arolsen City Centre

Holiday in Germany: Bad-Arolsen City Centre

Holiday in Germany: Schloss Arolsen

Holiday in Germany: Schloss Arolsen

Willingen and Area

Willingen lies about 15km Northeast of Winterberg, a popular ski resort. Willing has it’s own ski area too. Artificial snow is made from the water in this lake:

Holiday in Germany: Viewpoint

Holiday in Germany: Viewpoint

Holiday in Germany: Appartment View

Holiday in Germany: Appartment View

Kleve and Area

Kleve is a town just across the border with Nijmegen and has a pretty castle on the hill and a nice town centre.

Holiday in Germany: Castle in Kleve

Holiday in Germany: Castle in Kleve

Holiday in Germany: Peaceful River

Holiday in Germany: Peaceful River

A bit further east you can find Schloss Moyland, it has a museum for modern art inside (which we did not visit) and a very pretty garden that you can walk (fees €2pp).

Holiday in Germany: Art?

Holiday in Germany: Art?

Holiday in Germany: Schloss Moyland

Holiday in Germany: Schloss Moyland


If you have kids, and you want a cheap but very fun day, check our Irrland (no affiliate link!) in Germany (just across the border near Venlo). Entrance fee is just €6.50pp and you have 300.000m2 (!) of play areas to choose from and around 1000 BBQ spots. it’s hugh! Snacks and drinks are also very affordable in the single euro range (albeit we brought our own of course….).

Holiday in Germany: Irrland

Holiday in Germany: Irrland

Holiday in Germany: Irrland

Holiday in Germany: Irrland (Awesome Slides!)

The Finances

We had a great time, even on a relaively small budget. Let’s have a quick look at the numbers:

  • Days away: 9 (8 nights);
  • AirBnB first two nights: €43.5 (this was dirt cheap, but surprisingly comfortable);
  • Accomodation next 5 nights: €292.5 (Appartment with it’s on indoor pool);
  • Accomodation final night: €76 (Hotel near Maastricht);
  • Food: €144.5 (primarily from de Lidl and REWE; also includes some beers as gifts for family);
  • Gas: €85.5; and,
  • Cash/Entrance Fees/General: €70.

Total cost for the holiday: €712. Not bad, we generally aim to be below €100 per day for the 3 of us combined. Considering the fun we had, it was money very well spent!

Just as a heads up, you don’t see thos total amount in the upcoming savings rate post. Here we remove the fees for gas and food, as they are reported under Transportation and Groceries. Some expenses will also be coming in the October overview too.


How was your last holiday, or where are you going next? Let us know!

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Holiday on FIRE

When I write this on post (last Tuesday), we just came back from a short weekend family holiday. As a yearly thing we are invited by the in-laws for a long weekend in a chalet vacation park (they even pay for it!). On of these CenterParcs/Landal Greenparks places with a big tropical swimming pool and assorted other play things. It was great fun and I’m (again) in need of another holiday due to the short nights, FIRE pit evenings and booze. In short, we has a Holiday on FIRE!

Holiday on FIRE

The FIRE theme came back many times during this short holiday, in more ways then one. First and foremost it was financially. Because the in-laws paid for most of it, it turned out into a very frugal (cheap?) weekend. We only had to pay for the fuel to get there, some (random) groceries and a couple of drinks in the local café/bar/pool. We had brought food for most of the breakfasts, lunches and dinners (and so did most of the family).

We only went out to a restaurant once to get food, and that was a pancake restaurant (for the kids obviously, had a massive play area both indoors and outdoors). As you are aware, a pancake restaurant is not very expensive either. We were supposed to pay for our own food, but the in-laws were so happy with the fun night, they paid the bill (again)! That being said, we are going to take them out for a day of fun to “repay” some of the expense they have made for us. This is the least we could do (they won’t accept any money from us to cover expenses).

The good thing about doing a weekend out in one of these parks is that you can keep the costs down. We had received vouchers for early bookings, so kids had (besides the pool/petting zoo/play areas) free activities. They really loved it! You can also cook yourself (which we did) and limit costs this way too. The trick is to plan ahead and bring much of your own stuff, the grocery store in the park is not a frugal place to shop….

FIRE at the Fire Pit

On the evenings that we had put al the kids to bed (which was not easy some times, they were having loads of fun and too much sugar), we had time to drink a beer and relax. We obviously did this at the available fire pit! We had the kids help us with finding some extra fire wood in the local area (a very frugal exercise!). But when the adults started to feel like they were 12 year olds, entire trees ended up in the fire pit too. It might have had something to do with the beer……

Holiday on FIRE with Beer

Holiday on FIRE with Beer



Once at the fire pit, the topic fire was brought up. But not the FIRE was are used to finances are hardly discussed during these short holidays. Money really is still a taboo topic. Most of our (in-law) family are aware of what we try to do, and we try to help them out with financial/frugal recommendations. But this still is a hard nut to crack! Some are a bit susceptible to the idea, most live according to the YOLO principle (“you only live once”). We are however finding that they do confide in us more, which is a great trend. They also value our opinion about (handling) money, which is also very rewarding. Maybe there is still some hope 🙂

Fire at the Fire Pit

Most of the talk around fire was about the actual fire and songs around fire. Out came the phones and (thanks to WIFI) we had fun listening to various songs about fire, while watching fire. But where we started out OK, it quickly got out of hand and very tacky! A short selection in increasingly tackier order…..


How do you mix FIRE and a (short) holiday? How was your latest (short) holiday, where you also tired when you came home. In dire need of another holiday?

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The Perfect Heist

A cop and his partner investigate the death of an accountant, who is found in an industrial wood shredder (what’s left of him anyways).

In their search for the truth they end up with a pastor at a local church. This pastor turns out to be a con-man who had defrauded another congregation a few years before. His signature trade was to have the congregation work hard to make money for their parish. Next, the “wolf in sheep’s cloths” (aka the Pastor) would transfer the funds abroad (Curacao in this case) and vanish with his pretty partner.

The Perfect Heist - Industrial Wood Shredder

The Perfect Heist – The Industrial Wood Shredder, a useful tool for every criminal/murderer
Source: https://www.vermeer.com/NA/en/N/industries/wood_waste


However, this time the female partner realized she is betrayed by the pastor. She had found out that he impregnated another female of the congregation. In a twist these ladies start to work together and conspire against the pastor and have the congregation members kill him. They end up getting away with $357.000 and you see them sipping (virgin) margarita’s on the beach in Curacao. End good, all good! Or is it? For some reason(s) we don’t think this was the perfect heist….


The above story lines comes from an episode of the series “Grimm”. We watched some of this series on Netflix last week. The episode was called “the good shepherd”, in case you are interested. But his episode got us thinking, it is possible to survive and even thrive on the income from “the perfect heist” as commonly shown in movies and series? Time to find out!

The Perfect Heist - Curacao

The Perfect Heist – Location of Curacao

Let’s start with the story line as noted above. Besides the $357.000 heist from the parish in Portland, the initial heist from the first parish also collected $440.000. This totals to a nice $797.000, assuming all the transferred funds were untouched. Now, the two ladies had to fly to Curacao. There would have been costs for bank accounts and transfer fees. Let’s also assume they party a bit in the first month of “retirement”. A rough guess is that they would have about $790.000 left for a long-term stay on Curacao.

A Long and Happy Retirement?

For sake of simplicity we assume the 4%-rule is true and will hold up in the coming decades (this is debatable, we know). The 4% SWR would yield $31.600 per year. Let’s assume this is after taxes. Would these two ladies be able to survive in Curacao?

According to the Cost Of Living Index, Curacao is not too bad for individual costs. However there is no data rank for this place. We therefore assume it is about 65% of living in New York City (which is the benchmark). This percentage is based on neighboring countries/areas and the fact that Curacao is an tropical island (and thus more expensive for certain goods and services).

At 65% of NYC, the living costs without rent is approximately $727 per person per month (NYC = $1.119 pppm). Rental of an apartment outside a city with 3 rooms averages about $1371/month. The two ladies would therefore need about $2.825/month. This is $33.900/year. What do you know! If they are able to save about $2.300 per year, they might actually be able to make it. But it won’t be margaritas on the beach every day served by sexy waiters. It would be a relaxed, but a far from glamorous retirement.

Low Cost of Living Areas

Perhaps it’s not a bad idea for them to move to a lower COL area, to stretch the “hard earned” dollars a bit further. Based on the COL index, you’d likely end up in India, Egypt, Pakistan or Ukraine. If they’d like a bit less of an adventure and a more “western” feel to it, they could go to Las Palmas in Spain.

The Perfect Heist - Las Palmas Spain

The Perfect Heist – Las Palmas Spain
Source: http://www.grancanaria.com/patronato_turismo/Discover-the-city.12652.0.html

Las Palmas has a COL index of 48.62. This translates into living actual costs of just $544 pppm. Rent for a 3 bedroom apartment is about $621/month. This would mean total costs of $1709/month or $20.508/year. That would leave about $12.000 per year for sun, fun and margaritas! Guess we have a clear winner here.


But there is also a catch. Curacao and Spain both have an extradition treaty with the USA. Considering the two cops already know who they are, they could be in for some serious issues! More on this later.

Heist Amounts

In most cases heists are performed by a group of people. Even the electronic heists are usually done with a team of “experts”. I’ve make a short list of several movie heists and associated values (total and per person). It is actually quite hard to find the heist amount in most movie synopsis. If you feel I missed an important one (or two/three/etc.), please comment! Would love to make this list a bit longer.

The Perfect Heist - Heist the Movie

The Perfect Heist – Heist the Movie

  • Heist: Cash for sick daughter’s medical bill. Value: $300.000 (not for retirement, obviously)
  • Snatch: 86 carat diamond. Value: $3.9M. Team size 6 = $0.65M pp
  • The Score: Scepter. Value: $4.0M. Team size 4(?) = $1.0M pp
  • The Italian Job: Gold. Value $38M. Team size 6 = $6.33M pp
  • Ocean’s Eleven: Cash. Value $150M. Team size 11 = $13.63M pp

In most of the above examples, the guys/girls should be just fine financially. Especially in the case of Ocean’s Eleven! They would have no issue living in Zurich or Bermuda (the two highest COL areas in the index).

But in some of the above cases they are on the run from law enforcement, or pissed off gangsters/mobsters or even both. It is probably time to disappear instead of flaunting the new wealth, but where to go?

Safe and Affordable Locations to Retire for the Aspiring Criminal

A quick search on the interweb found the following post. There is quite the list of countries with no extradition treaty with the USA. This is the good news if you have law enforcement coming after you! However, as noted in the article, there is still the chance of you becoming a pawn of governments. A deal to extradite you might still be made and you would be out of luck (and in prison!).

That being said, the following countries could be interesting (depending on your retirement preferences):

  • Cuba (No COL index available)
  • Indonesia (Yogyakarta COL index = 35.08)
  • The Maldives (No COL index available)
  • Namibia (No COL index available)
  • Nepal (Kathmandu COL index = 34.24)
  • Morocco (Casablanca COL index = 37.94)
  • Samoa (No COL index available)
  • São Tomé & Príncipe (No COL index available)
  • Taiwan (Kaohsiung COL index = 59.78)
  • Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City COL index = 43.38)

Unsurprisingly, most these places have a pretty low COL and you could live like a king. Not really low key though….might attract more attention than you want. Guess if (fellow) gangsters are after you, the Brazilian jungle or Siberian mountains are a better place to stay. These places will undoubtedly have a low COL too, but are far from glamorous/comfortable.

The Perfect Heist - Cost Of Living Index

The Perfect Heist – Cost Of Living Index Map of the world
Source: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/

The Perfect Heist

The perfect heist is obviously difficult, as nothing is perfect. So here are some considerations for “the perfect heist” (or “practical heist”) from a financial perspective:

  • Gold is not too bad. The weight of $1M in gold today (@ $1.267/oz.) is about 789.3 oz. = 22.37 kg. You could still add this into your luggage and not have to pay extra when flying out of the country! It does have poor resale value at (smaller) jewelers/pawn shops. When stealing $1M in market value, you could probably lose up to 30% or so in commissions/exchange rates.
  • Diamonds are great in the sense that they are light and easy to transport. The price is however subject to the market, quality and the size (higher carat diamonds are generally worth more per carat). You would have to steel many more smaller ones to get the same value. But in this case you should probably still steel small diamonds, as the bigger ones are more difficult as there are fewer available. Finding a balance is key here.
  • Cash might also be a problem too depending on how much you steal. The weight of $1M in $20 bills is 50kg and encompasses nearly 52l of volume! That’s an extra charge at the airport (unless you use points or are a frequent flyer). Perhaps you better steel $100 notes, in that case you are down to 10 kg and just over 10.3l of volume. That should fit in a backpack! Traceability might still be a problem, as each bill has a unique number/code.
  • Art is a tricky one as the value per weight/dimensions can be really high. But because art is so unique, selling it might be difficult. When you sell on the black market it is likely also at significantly reduced values.
  • That leaves electronic data/currency, which has no weight (unless you transport on a stick of drive). It might take some time to shift the funds via different banks in different countries to a final destination bank or banks. Even better, transfer into Bitcoin or some other non-traceable digital currency. This way you might be able to really disappear of the (virtual) radar. But with Bitcoin, the value in USD also changes and I’m not sure about any transfer/transaction fees. The fluctuations might actually work two ways, it could make you even more money, or result in big losses. Only time will tell.
The Perfect Heist - The Diamond Heist

The Perfect Heist – The Diamond Heist
Source: http://www.enigmarooms.co.uk/

The Moral of this Story

If you plan “the perfect heist” of some sorts, make sure it is for a good amount of (guaranteed) money to cover your risks. And quickly get your butt to a non-extradition country and lay low for a while!

But despite all the options, the perfect heist is likely not doing one at all. Probably better to just slash costs of living and invest the difference into income producing assets. This is almost a guarantee for success with no risk to your personal life. Clear win if you’d ask me.

So, no plans on our side for any of this, but one can dream, right?! How about you, what’s your perfect heist?

P.s. interesting trivia, the actor playing the con-man/pastor actually stopped working to sail around the world for 2.5 years with his family! Seems like a smart cookie that knows how to value life and experiences.

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Flag of Belgium

I probably should be writing the savings rate post for April, but I’m still too much into the whole holiday thing. Despite already being at work for three days….sigh. So instead of pretty graphs with good savings rates, you can take a look at some of the things we have seen last week. Without further delay, here is a short summary of our holiday in Belgium.

Day 1: Beach, Travel and Arrival in Belgium

Before we actually drove to Belgium, we met with friends at the beach in Noordwijk (the Netherlands). This was one of the more spontaneous actions we have done in a while. Great prelude to the holiday actually! After lunch we started to drive towards Belgium. Once we crossed the border, the holiday feeling really kicked in.

I believed it was a good idea to take local roads, rather than the highway, to have a prettier drive. Pretty it was, but boy was it a wrong decision! Forgot how poor the Belgium secondary road system is. In the Netherlands we are blessed with near perfect roads, driving abroad always reminds me of this. Apparently Miss CF agreed that the roads were poor (and winding), unfortunately her stomach did not agree! Never knew that we would be so happy to have rubber boots in the car….. But she was a good girl and aimed very well, no spills 😉 Poor kid, motion sickness is no fun!

Day 2: Alden Biesen (Belgium)

Alden Biesen is a castle located just outside the town  of the Bilzen. It’s freely accessible and it’s an nice place to roam around for a couple of hours. But once we got there, there was a story telling fair for kids. We explored the various dungeons and rooms where these story telling events were about to happen and found one that had spaces left. Fortunately Miss CF could freely join in, but got bored after about 20min and wanted to run outside again. This was fine with us, so we walked through the massive gardens and enjoyed the sunshine. We also enjoyed some packed lunch in the gardens.

Holiday in Belgium: Alden Biesen - The Church

Holiday in Belgium: Alden Biesen – The Church

Holiday in Belgium: Alden Biesen - The Main Castle

Holiday in Belgium: Alden Biesen – The Main Castle

Day 3: Tongeren and Bilzen (Belgium)

We were told by the owners of the vacation rental that the city of Tongeren was very nice to visit. We therefore got out the trusty GPS and drive down to a free parking area and went to explore the city. It’s not very big, but it does have lots of character and many very old buildings and a medieval wall (well sections of it anyways).

Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren - Main Church

Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren – Main Church

We got lucky and were able to enter the Moerenpoort (a old tower at the city gate) and climb all the way to the top for a great view of the city of Tongeren.


Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren - Moerenpoort

Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren – Moerenpoort

Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren - City View

Holiday in Belgium: Tongeren – City View


After leaving Tongeren we decided to also check out the city centre of Bilzen, another old town not far from Tongeren. But there was not that much to see and do. We therefore ended up doing grocery shopping and went home for diner (and to play with the animals in the yard of the vacation rental).

Day 4: Play Day at Edenhof, near Bilzen (Belgium)

After two days of cultural sightseeing, we decided to have a bit of frugal family fun with Miss CF. We had found a free play park called “Edenhof” near the town of Bilzen. It boosted about 30 different units including swings, zipline, climbing towers and more. Needless to say that Miss CF did not want to leave, not even after nearly 2 hours of running around! We eventually persuaded here with food (we were starving too and needed a hot cup of tea to warm up). Who ever said you need to go to a amusement park to have fun?


Day 5: Kings Day in Maastricht (the Netherlands)

We have friends that live in Maastricht. We already visited them and the city a couple of times and really like the place. It’s a very pretty city! But this day it was also Kingsday! In short, major outdoors flea markets, concerts and lots more. If you even visit the Netherlands, make sure it’s around this time, the country goes mad and orange (including me).


We first explored the flea market and met with friends whom where selling their stuff. Next we visited the St. Pieters Berg (free parking!), before heading over the our friends place for diner and more fun.

Holiday in the Netherlands: Maastricht - Pietersberg

Holiday in the Netherlands: Maastricht – Pietersberg

Holiday in the Netherlands: Maastricht - Old Mining Area

Holiday in the Netherlands: Maastricht – Old Mining Area

Day 6: National Park Hoge Kempen (Belgium)

Due to the long and tiring day for Miss CF in Maastricht, we decided to take it easy in the morning. Which was a smart idea, as Miss CF crashed again just after lunch. About 3 hours later we still had some time for a walk in the National Park Hoge Kempen.

Day 7: Gaia Zoo in Kerkrade (the Netherlands)

We don’t have one specific supermarket where we shop for groceries. But when we found out the Jumbo was having a savings program that could provide discounts on zoo’s, amusement parks and more. This was potentially useful for a day trip, so we decided to have a look. Turned out that the program was pretty lucrative! For every €10 shopping we received a coupon for €2.5 discount on entrance fees.

In short, we did some major grocery shopping before the holidays. Stocking up on stuff we would have bought anyways. We ended up with €30 off the zoo entrance fees, which meant we only paid €27.5 to get in (over 50% discount!). This is not a lot of money for a whole day of fun. We were at the zoo when it opened at 10 and left about 6 hours later. We obviously brought our own lunch and drinks to keep costs further in reign. It was a great day and Miss CF crashed before we got to the car to drive back.

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade - Ducks/Ibis

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Ducks/Ibis

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade - Wild Pig

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Wild Pig

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade - Lioness

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Lioness

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade - Rhino

Holiday in the Netherlands: Gaia Zoo Kerkrade – Rhino

Day 8: Driving home and the Swimming Pool!

No personal pictures here, but we ended up on this pool: http://www.sr-dommelslag.be/ For anyone passing nearby Overpelt (Belgium, close to the Dutch border) with kids, this is a great pool. Pretty new, got something fun for everyone and is relatively cheap.

We wanted to brake up the drive back by stopping by a swimming pool along the way. We initially looked for tropical swimming pools/water parks in holiday parks like Landal Green Parks and Centre Parks. These places charge around €11-15pp depending on your age. For us this would have been nearly €40 for a couple hour swim. That’s mad! The pool in Overpelt was only €9.50pp and kids under 4 were free! At €19 total, it was a lot more affordable.

The Holiday Cost

This is a financial blog, so we do have to review the costs for the holiday of course! Normally we don’t include food, fuel or kids items, as this goes into separate categories in our budget. Reasoning is that we would have spend most of this money anyways, regardless of going on holidays. But for sake of completeness we added them below in the holiday overview.

The holiday costs included:

  • Vacation rental (7 nights): €400
  • Zoo entrance: €27.5
  • Swimming Pool: €19
  • Fuel: €40
  • Costs food / going out to dinner / cash: €138.5

The total holiday would come in at about €625. Not bad, especially considering we were aiming at between €700 and 900!

How was your last holiday? Where did you go? Did you stick to your budget?

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After reading up on the blog “Wandering Earl”, and enjoying it very much, I’ve started to think where our (Mr. CF, Mrs. CF and Team CF) travels have let us to in the last decades. The list is not nearly as long as Earl’s (see here), but we appear to have done our fare share of travelling. Between the two of us we have been to 23 countries so far (including Hawaii with the US, of course). We are still planning to add a few more countries in the coming decades.

Do note that our travels were both for business, studies and pleasure. Both Mr and Mrs CF have studies abroad for a semester. Mr CF also worked extensively abroud during his carreer. We also emigrated to Canada for many years, which was an absolutely amazing experience!


We have included a few of our own photos to give an impression. For some places we don’t have any photos as we did not have any (digital) camera’s at that time:

Angola (Business)

Catching Cobras (not me though!)

Angola - Cobra

Austria (Leisure)

Castle/Mountain Lake

Austria - Castle Austria - Moutain Lake

Belgium (Leisure)

Brugge/Caves of Han

Belgium - Brugge Belgium - Caves of Han

Canada (Business/Leisure)

Lake Louise/Rockies/Snowshoeing

Canada - Lake Louise Canada - Rockies Canada - Snowshoeing

Croatia (Leisure)

Denmark (Leisure)

Estonia (Leisure)

France (Studies/Leisure)

Mont Blanc/Paris (Le Notre Dame)

France - le notre dame France - Mont Blanc

Finland (Leisure)

Germany (Studies/Leisure)

Black Forest Home

Germany - Black Forest House

Great Britain (Business/Leisure)

Greece (Leisure)

Hawaii (Leisure)

OK , this technically is the USA, but it is a special place: Lava/Blow Hole/Maua Kea Observatory

Hawaii - Lava Hawaii - Maui - Blow Hole Hawaii - Mauna Kea Observatory

Iceland (Leisure)

Iceland - Reykjavik

Italy (Leisure)

Luxembourg (Leisure)

Netherlands (All)

Keukenhof (Lisse)/Hellevoetsluis (Windmill) – we know, very stereotypical!

Netherlands - Hellevoetsluis Netherlands - Keukenhof

Norway (Leisure)

Portugal (Business)

Lisbon (Castle)

Portugal - Lisbon

United States (Studies/Leisure)


USA - Yellowstone

USA - Bison USA - NYC

Qatar (Business)

Camel near Doha


Spain (Studies/Leisure)

Sweden (Studies/Leisure)

Switzerland (Leisure)

Mountain Lake/Church on the Rock(s) 😉

Switzerland - Church Switzerland - Moutain Lake

And you, where have you travelled?

Where have you travelled? Where have you gotten yourself to on this amazing planet? What was your most memorable place or the one you love most? Any ides on where you will be going this year? Let us know!

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