How to work 9-5 and travel the rest of the time

A full-time job shouldn’t stop you from satisfying your wanderlust. The Local spoke to Travel After 5 blogger Alline Waldhem to find out her tips and tricks for travellers who only have 25 days of annual leave.

How to work 9-5 and travel the rest of the time
Photo: Alline in Lisbon, Portugal

Feel like your day job is thwarting your travel plans? Keep telling yourself you don’t have the time (or cash) to take a trip? Where there’s a will, there’s a way, says travel aficionado Alline Waldhelm.

“It’s really a mindset. I love to do it and, on average, I travel somewhere once a month. In the summer, I fly every single weekend.”

Alline, who is originally from Brazil, caught the travel bug when she first visited Germany 12 years ago. It’s a trip that changed her life; she resolved to live in Europe one day and sure enough returned several years later to study in Munich before settling in Vienna.

“I always really liked traveling to Europe. When I was living in Brazil, I managed to come four times before moving to Munich to study German,” she tells The Local.

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Photo: Alline in Budapest last year

Although she works full time as a financial analyst, Alline doesn’t let her job get in the way of her adventures. In Austria, she explains, overtime is discouraged so it gives her plenty of time and the flexibility to take a flight on a Friday evening and return on the Sunday night.

“It’s actually really manageable,” she says. “For me, it’s so important to have these breaks. Of course, you don’t disconnect from your life in two or three days but that’s not the point. There’s so much to explore; you might be physically tired but it’s a mental break and you go back to the office on Monday with a lighter mood.”

While she reserves the bulk of her annual leave for travelling back to Brazil, she still takes a couple of weeks over summer to plan a longer trip. This year, she’s heading to Costa Smeralda in Sardinia – “The beaches are unbelievable and I want to explore more parts of the La Maddalena archipelago” – before spending a week in the south of Portugal which she describes as “full of history and culture, welcoming people and delicious food.”

Photo: Alline in Sicily during summer 2018

Where to find travel inspiration

When looking for new places to travel, Alline often turns to her most trusted resource: her friends and ex-classmates who are scattered across Europe. Or, if there’s a specific city or country that she is keen to visit, she’ll follow news sites like The Local or Time Out to keep up with local events. She’s also an active member of Facebook groups like European Travellers #WhereToNext? that are dedicated to travel tips and inspiration.

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When Alline is feeling really adventurous she’ll use a feature like Skyscanner’s ‘Everywhere’ search to find the best deals on cheap flights. It’s how she stumbled on a great return flight to Larnaca, a pretty port city in southern Cyprus, last Christmas. Often, she starts with the destination, whether it’s a recommendation or her own find, and then pads out the trip once she’s booked.

She believes it’s still possible to ‘get off the beaten track’ even if you only have a couple of days to explore. In her experience, the best way to do this is to not plan too rigidly. Instead, pick a couple of things you really want to see or do and then play the rest of the trip by ear.

Photo: Alline in Lake Garda

“I try to be spontaneous. I really enjoy arriving in a city and just walking around and seeing what people are doing. I don’t plan every minute because usually you can meet someone and they suggest something to do. Leaving your time open means you may run into something more interesting or discover something different along the way.”

Find out how to discover your own life-changing place

The best advice she can offer full-time workers who are keen to travel more is to think logistically when booking flights and hotels. For short weekend trips, Alline mostly sticks to Europe and limits flight time to under a couple of hours so that the journey itself doesn’t eat too much into her precious exploring time.

The same goes once she’s touched down at her destination.

“Take London, for example, there are five airports and some of them it takes hours to get from the airport to the city centre. So I always find the airport that is closest. If it’s a small saving but it means I I lose an hour getting to the hotel, that’s something I won’t do.”

Alline adds that although you may be able to find a nicer hotel further out of the city “it’s not doable” when you only have a couple of days. Instead, she advises staying somewhere that may not be as plush but is more conveniently located. This way, you won’t “lose time, which is very precious on a short trip”.

Finally, she says: “Always be half ready to travel”. Alline always keeps a bag packed with the essentials like her passport, camera and tripod. This way, it only takes half an hour to pack so she can set off at short notice.

“If you have these things in your suitcase, you won’t forget anything. Everything is in the same place, half the work is already done.”

Alline’s top travel tips

  • Keep a bag packed with all your travel essentials

  • Check flight comparison sites to find new destinations 

  • Ask friends who live locally for insider tips

  • Look to Facebook groups and local news outlets for inspiration

  • If a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, take a ‘bridging day’ to turn it into a four-day weekend

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Lufthansa.

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Danish TV: The best shows to watch to understand Danish society

Denmark has a long and storied history of producing many great – and some not quite so great – television shows and series.

Danish TV: The best shows to watch to understand Danish society

If you’ve got a good grasp of Danish but still feel like there are some cultural references you don’t quite ‘get’, here’s a list of programmes to help get you up to speed.

Perhaps you’re not sure what someone means when they call for “Hans Christian” in a melodramatic voice, or why artisan cakes are more popular than ever before. If so, there’s plenty of great Danish TV for you to discover.

Danes take their homes – not least interior design – very seriously. This perhaps explains the recent success of shows like Boligkøb i blinde (Viaplay), in which would-be house owners sign over all their assets to a panel of experts who buy a cheap property and renovate it for them, before handing it back.

Normally, this results in a large part of the contestants’ budget being blown on a run-down property which they initially hate, before a deft renovation leaves everyone thrilled with the result.

While the format of the show is good, easy-to-digest entertainment, it also throws up some great design tips and insight into how Danes get their homes to look so smart.

On a similar theme is public service broadcaster DR’s long-running Kender Du Typen?, which first aired in 1994.

In this show, DR’s lifestyle experts are shown around the home of a mystery celebrity and must guest the identity of their host from their design choices and inventory. It’s great for learning about obscure Danish public figures, as well as for picking up a bit of inspiration for your indretning (interior design).

Sofie Gråbøl starred as Sarah in 2007 DR series Forbrydelsen (The Killing). Photo: Søren Bidstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Like anywhere else, Denmark has a vast back catalogue of reality TV shows, which are generally adaptations of formats shown in other countries.

X-Factor has proved hugely popular over the years and is still going strong since being picked up by channel TV2 after DR axed it in 2018. Watch it if you like X-Factor, but it sticks to the rigid formula seen elsewhere and won’t tell you much about Denmark.

The trashiest reality TV show in Denmark is probably Paradise Hotel, a US import that was first aired in Denmark by TV3 in 2005 and can now be streamed on Viaplay. It has claims to the title of Denmark’s most-discussed reality series, but probably loses out on this to DR’s altogether more wholesome Den store bagedystDenmark’s version of The Great British Bake-Off.

Now a veteran of 10 seasons, the Danish baking competition might surprise you in how different its contestants’ creations are compared to the UK version. It also shows you how traditional Danish cakes and pastries are made.

If you can’t get enough of Bagedyst, you can also watch Den store junior bagedyst in which youngsters aged 12-15 showcase their baking talents.

Danish television is best known internationally for the Nordic Noir genre – not least Swedish collaboration Broen, also known as The Bridge. The three-season detective series can be credited, along with political drama Borgen, with putting Danish television on international viewers’ radars.

I’m a fan of both these shows but as most people are probably already aware of them, here are a couple of lesser-known ones: Forbrydelsen (“The Killing”) was possibly the first in the wave of Scandinoir crime dramas to deploy muted tones, even more muted protagonists and brutal deaths. It can be viewed in Denmark via the online archive Filmstriben.

Bedrag (English title: “Follow the Money”), first released in 2016, has all the hallmarks of a Nordic Noir police show, with its focus on money laundering. After two mediocre seasons it returned for a third season with a freshened-up cast and much tighter plot: it’s this season I’d recommend as the closest thing Denmark has produced to highly-regarded US series The Wire.

If you’re going to watch Danish television to improve your knowledge of the national pop culture then you’re going to have to have a crack at the comedy at some point.

The most famous Danish comedy show is Klovn, which ran on TV2 and other channels from 2005-2018. Casper Christensen and Frank Hvam play main characters with the same first names as themselves, and the show follows their everyday lives.

Awkward silences, social faux pas and extreme cringe feature strongly in Klovn. These give it comedy elements in common with shows like The Office (UK) or Curb Your Enthusiasm (US), but Klovn is unmistakably Danish in its application of its humour.

After many years living in Denmark I’m still struggling to “get” Klovn, but I don’t know any Danes that don’t love it.

Actor Ove Sprogøe in a scene from Huset på Christianshavn. Photo: Olaf Kjelstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

If you want to watch a classic Danish television show, Huset på Christianshavn can be streamed on DR’s website. 84 episodes of this much-loved series were first broadcast in the 1970s, portraying the residents in a block of two-up, two-down flats in Christianshavn, a part of Copenhagen that has become considerably more exclusive since the series was made.

Watch Huset på Christianshavn to get a feel for Danish life in decades past, what tresser dansk (sixties Danish) sounds like and what Copenhagen looked like half a century ago.

The champion of Danish television shows is Matador.

Made by DR in the late seventies and early eighties but set during a period spanning the years 1929-1947, Matador follows a range of characters and families spanning the class divide. It revolves around a long-term rivalry between old-money Hans Christian Varnæs and up-and-coming businessman Mads Skjern, who upsets the established order.

Its portrayal of life in a provincial town as it goes through generational change and historical upheaval is simple conceptually. But the depth of its characters, brilliance of its writing and quality of its acting gives Matador an almost unassailable position at the pinnacle of Danish television history.

Perfectly mixing melodrama, light humour and intrigue, Matador is almost part of the national subconscious. Danes often recall scenes, characters or memorable lines from the show – even if they were born decades after it was released.

Did we miss out your favourite Danish TV show? What else deserves to be mentioned? Let us know in the comments.