Travelling with dogs, Sitting on the steps by a summer house with two dogs in the sun by the trees, The first time the boyfriend and I took a trip it was around Andalusia, in the South of Spain. The trip was just us two, but earlier this year we adopted two dogs. We knew immediately that we wanted to take them with us to the South of France this summer. It would be both mine and my boyfriend’s first lengthy holiday since we started our jobs and we wanted to make the most of our time with the doggos. Montpellier was is also apparently the dog friendliest place in France! Travelling with dogs, especially for the first time, can be stressful. Here are a few tips that cover driving in France, our roadtrip route, rest areas on French motorways and finally a checklist for travelling with dogs.

Driving in France

If you are planning to travel through France by car, you may have heard about the Crit’air / eco vignette, a sticker that classifies your car in terms of emissions, which will determine whether or not you can drive in a Low Emission Zone. Currently, only Grenoble and Paris have implemented permanent LEZs so if your route doesn’t go into any of these cities, then you don’t have to fret about not having a vignette because you left it too late, like us. Oops.

 

Our roadtrip route

We drove from Luxembourg to St Aunès, which was a total of 820km via the motorways: A31, A6, A7 and the A9.

We set off early on a Sunday morning at 1am to drive through the night. We pulled an all-nighter on Friday evening, going to bed around 4am on Saturday. My boyfriend, who did the driving, took another nap later in the evening after dinner and before setting off. Crazy? Maybe. Wort it? YES. The air was cool, the dogs were sleepy and there was minimal traffic on the road. We were never stuck in a traffic jam and when we started to get exhausted by the travel, the sun had come up and we felt more awake than we should have felt.

 

Rest areas on French motorways

The rest areas along (more info on APRR website*) the route we took were fantastic. Plenty of green patches to walk the doggos! I occasionally napped in the car so whenever we did stop for a break, I usually watched over the fur babies while my boyfriend took naps.

*APRR is where you can find out all about the different services and rest stops along the French motorways: Restaurants, gas stations, play areas, toilet-only rest stop etc. I emailed to ask whether they had an enclosed space for dogs, like at the Eurotunnel terminals, but unfortunately they do not. Being able to have the dogs off the leash without a worry would have been a fantastic perk!

 

Checklist for travelling with dogs

Two dogs on the beach drinking water from a collapsible water bowl which is easily transportable when travelling with dogs

I’ve been really liking the OneNote app for creating travel checklists. I created a notebook for this specific roadtrip, with sections dedicated to the dogs, our own packing, vegan spots in Montpellier, and social media hashtags. Coincidentally, this is how I organise all hashtags for two business accounts and one personal account to be copy-pasted from my phone to the UNUM app depending on the topic/photo. Now, onto the dog travel checklist itself!

  • EU pet passport or vaccination records (+registration of ownership if your extra paranoid)
  • List of veterinarians along your route and at your destination (this may be a bit over the top, but you never know) 
  • Dog tag with name and phone number with the international calling code for your country (In the scary event that you lose dog. Our dogs never got lost but had a tendency to wander off into the vegetable patch of the neighbours with whom we shared the grounds)
  • Leash & harness (we prefer using harnesses for the dogs and we kept them on during the journey so that we could easily attach the leashes rest stops along the French motorway)
  • Water (for our 9h road trip, we shared 2L of water between us two hoomans and the two doggos)
  • Food (for two weeks, we took 1KG of food for our 5kg dog, and 4KG of food for our 12kg pupper)
  • Collapsible bowl (an absolute must when travelling with dogs – so easy to pack away and it came in handy when we took day-trips)
  • First aid kit (think tick tweezers, regular tweezers, disinfectant etc.)
  • Bed and towel (we used the towel to cover the bed which was great for when one of our doggos had a stinker of an accident)
  • Baby wipes (to clean up those stinker accidents. It only happened once but the wet wipes definitely helped to clean it up quickly as well as mask the smell)
  • Poo bags (while on the fence about how ecologically friendly these are, they were a godsend when we had to clear up poop in a busy area or when one of them made a mess in the car

 

Do you travel with your fur babies? What items do you make sure to have on your checklist when you are travelling with dogs?

 

Follow:

tesla luxembourg store opening

Tesla comes to Luxembourg

It’s coming up to one year since Tesla opened its Luxembourg showroom. It was an exciting day for current owners, future owners and fans of the electric vehicle company in the region. The opening was made official by the Grand Duchy’s Deputy PM, Etienne Schneider, and Tesla Motor’s BE-LU Country Manager, An De Pauw. The EV company has topped Forbes’ 2016 list of the world’s most innovative companies, a commendation that can be attributed to teams of passionate employees and their CEO Elon Musk. Prior to the showroom opening, I attended the Digital Frontrunners talk hosted by Google Brussels where the importance of digitization was passionately emphasised by speakers from Singularity University, who spoke about AI, robotics, environmental challenges, innovation and exonomics (exponential economics). Digitization is set to influence our daily activities even more than before, making the following quote by Elon Musk stick with me:

“I could either watch it happen or be a part of it”

 

Digitizing Europe

Belgium was identified by Google and the Boston Consulting Group as one of the European Digital frontrunners, a group which also consists of Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia and Ireland. The report carried out by the Boston Consulting Group on Digitizing Belgium really makes me feel like it is such an exciting time to be living between both Belgium and Luxembourg, while the Google Digital Frontrunners talk has, most likely, propelled many attendees to want to “be a part of it”. The Boston Consulting Group has highlighted five areas the should be focused on order to fully embody being a digitized nation:

  • Enable digital and technology innovation
  • Stimulate entrepreneurship
  • Improve access to capital for young businesses
  • Adopt and implement smart regulation for the future
  • Build the skills and talent for tomorrow

(The Boston Consulting Group, 2016)

Entrepreneurship in Luxembourg

So where can you start? The digitization, start-up and entrepreneurship culture is without a doubt growing in Luxembourg and an excellent resource to keep up-to-date and draw inspiration from is Silicon Luxembourg. Find out where to pitch your next project and be a part of digitizing Luxembourg. WIDE (Women in Digital Empowerment) have also recently launched their startup leadership program for women, to better support women who are etnrepreneurs in the digital and new tech industries.

Follow:

weleda arnica sport bath

Do you ever have those mornings when you feel like utterly pampering yourself in the morning? Last Saturday was one of those days! After an evening Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training with the gals on Friday and then a morning run on Saturday morning, I couldn’t resist treating myself to a moment on the couch. Armed with a cup of tea, tray of goodies and a foot bath I was ready to chill out.

Now, I mentioned in my last post about the Weleda Arnica Sport range (reviewing the ingredients – here) that I don’t have a bathtub in my apartment in Leuven, so I whipped out a bucket to soak my feet and added some Weleda Arnica Sport Bath to it. The rosemary and lavender essentials oils are subtle when you first open the bottle but they really come to life in the warm water. We have quite a bit of lavender growing outside my parents’ house in Luxembourg so I just can’t get enough of the scent that reminds me of home. After the foot bath, I felt incredibly relaxed but totally re-energised to run errands for the rest of the day.

It’s also been a decent number of days since the Arnica Massage Oil came into my life and it has happily found its place in my post workout routine. I love spreading it over my calf muscles and shins after running, then using my knuckles to knead out and heat up any sore spots. If my neck is feeling a bit strained, I’ll also roll away any cheeky knots that have built up from sitting and working at a desk for a wee bit too long. As tempting as it would be to use the Weleda Arnica Sport Gel, I’m trying to use that sparingly in case I get any flare ups in my left foot from that injury I got back in February or if I get any particularly bad bruises from sparring.

weleda arnica sport shower gelHave you guys used Weleda Arnica Sport products before? I would love to hear about your favourite Weleda bits and bobs! In other news, our female trainer who gives the women’s only BJJ classes gave out a few promotions and I earned my first little stripe the other week!

The Weleda products mentioned in this post (RRP):

Arnica Sport Bath – 13.79 eur
Arnica Sport Gel – 8.99 eur
Arnica Sport Shower Gel – 7.99 eur
Arnica Sport Massage Oil – 11.99 eur (100ml) / 18.49 eur (200ml)

Follow:

Weleda Arnica Sport kaorianne

I took part in my first ever Color Run last Saturday and what better way to prepare than testing out a few Weleda Sports products which I received recently! I’ll be reviewing the Arnica Sport assortment of Weleda and using the apps Vegsafe and Think Dirty.

Vegsafe helps determine whether an ingredient could be from animal origin while the app Think Dirty on the other hand calculates how dirty a product is. It rates ingredients based on strength of evidence regarding Carcinogenicity, Developmental/reproductive toxicity and Allergenicity/immunotoxicity.

Weleda has very strong principles when it comes to using natural, organic and healthy ingredients so I wasn’t surprised when I scanned the Arnica Massage Oil and 7 of the 10 ingredients came up with a 0/clean rating. Their ingredients Limonene and Coumarin don’t have a 0/clean rating meaning it may be an irritant for sensitive skin but they are naturally occurring parts of the pure essential lavender and rosemary oil making it entirely safe to use. The Arnica extract is at the heart of the sports range with its use dating back to the 18th century for things such as rheumatism. Nowadays, Arnica is used in promoting blood circulation and speeding up the healing process of muscles which is fantastic when you want to crank up your number of workouts during the week, for a quick warming up of your muscles or if you have a race coming up, but also for recuperating afterwards. I tried it myself and Arnica Massage Oil is definitely my new running buddy!

Back in February of this year, I injured my left foot quite badly after rolling my ankle while running. It took a while to get back on it again and I still occasionally get some nagging pain if my running form is a bit off. I used the Arnica Sport Gel when I got a flare up the other day and it definitely helped to soothe the twinge in my foot. One of the products I haven’t been able to use yet after workouts and running is the Arnica Sport Bath Soak. I don’t have a bath tub in my apartment in Belgium but I’ll be visiting my parents this weekend so I’ll be sure to schedule in a soak after my Saturday run.

All the ingredients in Weleda’s Arnica Sport products are plant-based. I was a little unsure about the Lecithin and the Lactic Acid in the Arnica Sports Shower Gel as Vegsafe indicate that these ingredients could be of animal origin, but I have been reassured that the Lactic Acid and Lecithin used in the Weleda cosmetic products are manufactured using non-animal raw materials – so they are not of animal origin. The product itself smells deliciously (mix of Lavender and Rosemary), boosts your energy and leaves your skin soft and hydrated.

With the Color Run I was able to pop out for a few extra runs and put these products to the test. I know this may have been a slightly long-winded post but ever since I changed my lifestyle I’ve become more curious; not only about food but about how specific ingredients in cosmetics may have an effect on our body so I was over the moon to write about Weleda which has such strong principles with regard to nature and health.

Follow:

This past weekend was the ING Luxembourg Night Marathon. This past weekend I ran my first ever half marathon. I was able to prove to myself that I actually could and that means more to me than I will ever be able to explain. Just over a decade ago, my undiagnosed hyperthyroidism had put me in a hypertensive crisis, with the possible risk of heart failure. Because I had to stop school sports for a while, I realise now that I passively conditioned my brain to think I could never be active again. It scared me. I eventually took up kayaking in 2014-2015 and I didn’t start running until the end of summer last year… but I did it! All 21.0975 km of it! And I was also had the chance to raise money for CoppaFeel! in the run up to race day (more about them in this post: here). What better way to pay homage to the runner whose blog convinced me to sign up for a race, Kelly Roberts (Run, Selfie, Repeat), than by putting together a GIF filled post of the things that go through the mind of a first-time half marathoner.

1.  Getting excited for the race to start

Warming up before run can make all the difference so don’t be put off by stares. Get yourself prepped and pumped as the minutes count down until race time!

2. Figuring out if you’ll need to use the port-a-potties

“It’s a night race. I pooped last night.. So does that mean I won’t poop tomorrow? If I pooped last night, don’t poop tomorrow morning, will I need to poop in the evening i.e. during the race?”

3. Losing 90% of the water you pick up at your first hydration station pit stop

Yup. I read about this one but the excitement of the half marathon got the better of me and I Forest Gump-ed it passed the hydration station, with the cup of water gushing down my torso like Niagra Falls.

4. Noticing at which stages people took their energy gels

And taking a mental note for future reference. “Should I time my energy gel consumption differently next time?”

5. Arriving at water station number two with finesse

A controlled gliding approach at water station number two proved to be a lot more successful.

6. Remembering that you tried something new on race day

Staying away from anything new on the eve or on the day of the race seemed to be one of the golden rules that kept reappearing in forums, training plans and blogs.. oops.

7. Trailing someone since the start but then you finally take over

There’s that one person you have constantly been behind. The secret and silent race buddy. But the time has come to bid adieu to the familiarity of the back of their head and go where your legs take you.

8. Realising that the last 5k is a constant incline

…but you know you got this

 

9. When your family and friends find you after the finish line

Your family and friends have most likely waited a decent couple of hours for you and are eager to know how you are.

10. The morning after

Whether it’s your toes, hips, muscles or knees (right knee in my case) that hurts, something is going to be throwing you off from bringing the A-game to your supermarket strut for the next few days.

Any first time half marathoners out there?

What would you guys add to the list?

Follow: