Hi! My name is Brenda van Gerven aka the travel blogger behind Brenda Explores. I am a Dutch part-time traveler based in Bergen op Zoom (the Netherlands).
On my blog, you can find travel info, stories, and tips. I’ve got a crush on ancient places in Europe and I’m always daydreaming about another US trip. Besides my own experiences, I share travel stories from other travelers.
My goal is to connect people by sharing their passion for traveling. I hope my blog helps you in finding your next destination and enables you to have the best time wherever you’re traveling to!
Who is Brenda?
Let me take you back to 1989, which is the year I was born at. I grew up in a tiny Dutch city called Bergen op Zoom. My parents were no exotic travelers, but they did take their only kid everywhere there went! I’m very grateful for that. So this is how my travel adventures began…
My first trip ever
When I was about five months old my parents thought it was a good idea to take me on their first family trip. Can you guess where we went? The Netherlands! We found ourselves in the lovely National Park the Brabantse Kempen at Het Vennenbos (my parents must have had an excellent taste because this accommodation still exists).
While I’m writing this, I asked my parents to give me any insight on this exciting journey to the middle of nowhere. My mom said the following: ‘you pretty much slept the entire day’ and my dad added: ‘you were mostly chilling with us in the pool’. Uhm, let’s give this young explorer another chance, shall we?
My second trip (going abroad!)
Only three months after the Brabantse Kempen my good behavior during the first vacation got rewarded. This time my parents drove to…Belgium! We stayed at De Haan in Park Atlantis (their website looks a little outdated, but still going strong).
Besides swimming and sleeping (and probably lots of food to keep me alive), we made a day trip to Bruges where I discovered my artsy side at the Salvador Dali Exhibition. Looking into old photo albums I caught myself sleeping a lot in the buggy while my parents were checking out interesting art pieces.
My first trip with an airplane
After that parents saved up some more money and, when I was about two years old, we arrived in sunny Portugal. We stayed in a not so chic hotel called Mar Azul (before the Internet existed you had to put with whatever the local travel agency gave you). However, I had a blast during this Portugal trip because:
- I made a trip on a donkey and I looked happy while doing it
- I had my own floaty, not a fancy unicorn, but a white ring with blue stars on it
- I made my first friend, a Dutch boy called René, and we built stunning sandcastles together
- I peed in a cave for the first time, because there were no restrooms at the beach
- I drunk water out of a special source which promised to make me look 10 years younger
It’s safe to say that, like most of you, I didn’t sleep at five-star hotels or went on safari’s (while taking cute selfies with elephants) when I was growing up. Today I still prefer budget traveling over luxurious trips.
My abroad study in France
Just making a small jump in time to the start of my studies (where things get more exciting, I promise). So at the age of 16, it was time to go the college and I decided to get a bachelor in ‘Marketing & Communications’. During those four years, I learned a lot about the magical marketing world that never stops changing.
In my third, year my friend Sharon and I took part in the Erasmus program (a student exchange program). We went to the University of Valenciennes for six months to take English and French courses in international marketing. I had an amazing time exploring France and meeting students from all over the world!
Photography and editing
While studying I developed an interest in photography. I just enjoy looking at things. Observing and capturing a moment means a lot to me. By the way, if you like any of the photos used on my travel blog, you can easily share them with your friends on Pinterest (a Pin button will appear on the top left corner when you hover on a photo). But please don’t pin the photo with René as I didn’t ask his permission to post this photo (surprise!).
To get better at photography I subscribed myself to multiple local photography classes. And I started to experiment with editing in the Windows photo editor (sepia lover forever). Nowadays I use Adobe Lightroom (check out my free presets), which does the job a little better.
I heart marketing
After graduating I worked in several marketing jobs, but I won’t bore you with those. Curious to see me struggling as a 20-year old trying to find her way in between all those career tigers? This is a link to my LinkedIn profile (feel free to connect!).
I enjoy working in marketing, because of the psychology that comes with it whenever you or your brand puts itself out there. Marketing is a very powerful instrument for any business. However, reaching a target audience is never easy. It takes a lot of time, money and failures to figure out what works best. I’ve always been up for the challenge!
Why did you start a travel blog?
As you might have noticed I love writing, photography, and marketing. And I just have this urge to go on adventures! Maybe, because I’m an only child, growing up in a safe environment, made me curious to see more of this beautiful planet. I feel lucky to have such hard-working parents, who taught me so many important life lessons: go to school, get a job, save up some money, and spend it on things you enjoy doing most in life.
After graduating I got a job, developed my career a bit, and worked in companies which allowed me to travel in between. As a millennial, I was looking for a way to combine all my passions. In July of 2018, when my boyfriend Michel and I visited NYC, the idea to start this travel blog was born. On November 30 of 2018, my blog went live!
What kind of traveler are you?
I’m open to any destination but I have got a serious crush on ancient places in Europe and I’m always daydreaming about another US (road) trip.
Besides that, you could describe me as a pretty active traveler. I mainly explore by foot or by bike but I’m happy to try any local public transport option available. Oh, and I’m all about low budget traveling. However, a comfy bed is important to me because I need a good night of sleep to feel fit during my travels!
Who do you travel with?
I mostly travel with my boyfriend Michel whom I met in 2015 (get to know Michel a bit better!). We have lived in Belgium (Antwerp) for nearly two years. And, in May 2019, we bought a house together in Bergen op Zoom.
Michel is not involved in any of my blog activities but he does help me out in taking photos while we are traveling.
Why would I read your travel blog?
Over the last 15 years, I’ve been traveling as much as I can. Before traveling to a new destination I do my research because I love to blend in. I think it’s important to get myself familiar with a new culture and respect people’s traditions. I enjoy meeting locals, eating their dishes, and discovering their city.
There are thousands (if not more!) travel blogs out there and I’m not trying to compete with any of them. In my opinion, each of us brings value, are unique, and allow you to learn about destinations from different perspectives. I hope you allow me to be one of those. The blog is my passion and I will provide you with as much value as I can.
What can I find on your travel blog?
My blog is divided in a few menu’s:
- Meet Brenda: this is where you’re at right now! Furthermore, I share personal stories in my personal journal, and at media I’ve put links to all the guest blog posts I’ve done so far.
- Start Exploring: this menu consists out of Europe and North America. This is where you can find all my travel blog posts.
- My Etsy shop: this menu will take you directly to my shop on Etsy where I sell a couple of my travel photos as digital downloads in A2, A3, A4, and A5 format or in sets of 3 or 6.
- Freebies: you can find my free Adobe Lightroom presets here as well as social media freebies.
- Travel Community: on a regular basis I interview other bloggers on travel related topics, such as travel blooper, I select a blogger(s) to become the travel blogger of the month, and I interview travel foodies.
- Contact: you can get in touch with me or, if you have a business proposal, companies can contact me as well.
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Example of my Winter Rebellion Adobe Lightroom preset
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