Camptoo, the Airbnb for Campers!

As a traveler, you always have a few things on your bucketlist that NEED to be done. These could be destinations, but also experiences. Most people would agree if I said that taking a camping roadtrip with an old Volkswagen Van would be one of them. 2 years ago I was so lucky to cross it off my bucketlist! Camptoo, the Airbnb for campers and mobile homes, asked me to take an oldtimer Volkswagen T2 for a little roadtrip.

What is Camptoo?

It’s too easy to compare Camptoo with Airbnb but it’s really the best comparison to make. It Basically works like this; most mobile-home owners only use their ride half the time so it just sits there, in front of their garage. Camptoo makes it possible for those owners, to rent out their camper. Take a look on their website and select the camper you want, for how long and for which date. As a result you get several options and all you need to do is to pick your favorite and send the owner a message. Finally you will see which camper is available and if they’ll accept your request.

After a quick check up, we were handed over the keys and headed on our little adventure.

Once accepted you will receive a confirmation email plus a text message. I picked a beautiful Volkswagen T2. Not really knowing what to expect, me and my family drove down to her house where Nicole explained everything we needed to know about her precious ride. Camptoo makes sure that you are all-risk insured and you pay a deposit to cover yourself for any damages along the way. Just make sure to have your travel insurance sorted. After a quick check up on damages and details, we were handed over the keys and headed on our little adventure.

On an adventure with Camptoo

I was worried about the cold,  would the rain drip inside? What if the van breaks down?! 

Volkswagen dreams. Camptoo

The Route

The first thing I noticed is that driving a car like this get’s a lot of attention. A lot. People waving, throwing up peace signs or giving you a thumbs up out of respect. Pretty cool. We decided to drive to The Ardennes, an area with hills and greenery and lot’s of adventurous roads. From Limburg we had about 2 more hours to go and we found this amazing camping online called Les Cabanes De Rensiwez. Here you can camp but also rent the most amazing lodges such as treehouses, Norwegian style cabins and hobbit-like-houses. Our campervan included a little kitchen with a stove so we could prepare dinner and make some tea. No camping adventure is complete without a little thunder storm and boy did we have one on the first night! It rained and rumbled for about 3 hours but it just made the whole experience even more special and cozy. TIP: Bring your own pillows for comfort and a (extra) warm sleeping bag as it get’s very cold at night even during summer. Many camper owners have blankets available but they can be too thin for your liking.

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Bohemian dream
Yep, this is soo me!

Breakfast at the camping
A breakfast basket brought to our camper

The next we drove down to a special place called the Jan Foppen Forest. This is a small forest on top of a hill where you can do crazy survival stuff like abseiling, climbing, paragliding, horse riding and much more. Definitely check out this spot if you’re heading to the Ardennes. 

Camptoo at The Foppen Bos
Our VolkswagenT2 at the Foppen Forest

On our last and final day we really got to drive through small towns where we stopped if we saw something nice such as a little Sunday market or a beautiful viewing point. The Van had to be brought back to its owner in the early afternoon so we decided to sleep at a camping in Limburg, near the Belgian border. This camping was very modern and even had a swimming pool, restaurant and beautiful forest nearby to walk in.

La Roche
We stopped at La Roche, a town visited by many cyclist 

My Verdict

A dream come true. honestly. Ok, I didn’t have a lot of sleep like I would have in a 5 star hotel but that’s not what camping is about. Camping and especially, camping in an oldtimer, is about the magic of it. The adventure without knowing where you will sleep the next day and to follow your own path. I felt like a true nomad and besides that, the whole thing was so well organized from beginning to the end.

Me and the VolkswagenT2, Camptoo

Do you want to go on the same adventure? Visit Camptoo’s website, Facebook & Instagram for inspiration!

Check out my video to get a good impression!

Love,

Elke

The Oman Travel Guide 2019

 Oman was voted as one of the top destinations for 2018 and since then we knew we had to visit. Oman is extremely divers and has many route possibilities. We’ve created the ultimate Oman Travel Guide for 2019 so you can get off the beaten track.

There are a few things that you need know about the Sultanate of Oman.

  • Oman is a safe country
    Yes, there are still some misconceptions about this. Oman is in fact one of the safest countries is the middle east and the crime rate is low. We advise you to check your local travel advise agency, but there wasn’t a moment that I felt unsafe. The people of Oman are extremely generous and welcoming.
  • You need to apply for a visa
    A 10 day visa will cost you about 12 Euro, and is available online. Print it and bring it with you. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months. Other visa’s are also available.
  • Warm weather is guaranteed
    Oman is warm throughout the year with the hottest season between June and August. October up to April are the most pleasant.
  • Respect the Omani culture
    Oman is an islamic country, therefore it’s wise to bring a kaftan and head scarf when visiting the Grand Mosque and some public area’s. In most hotels and Wadi’s, you can wear summer clothes, but bikini’s are not always accepted everywhere. Bring a shirt and long trousers just in case.
  • Oman is a rich country
    For this reason is also not the most affordable one, and you can compare prices with western Europe.
  • Rent a car, or get someone to drive you around
    Because Oman is so widely spread open, that the distances between the highlights are far. Sometimes you need to drive for 2 hours to get somewhere. Public transport and taxi’s are used in the capital.

Where to start and stay
The capital of Oman is Muscat and the perfect place to start your trip from. You can choose between different hotels, both luxury and the more standard ones. We stayed in the Chedi Muscat, which is top range, but well worth it if you want to go all out for your first night. Hotel rooms vary between 300 and 1000 euro per night.

The Chedi Muscat in Oman
The longest pool in the middle east

Chedi Muscat Oman
My condo in the Chedi Muscat

From Muscat you’ll start your trip though Oman. Along the way we tip you the best accommodations with links and details. 


The Route
Oman is widely spread out so the best way to get around is by car. If you are with a group of friends you can hire a 4×4 car, but you can also book a tour guide that will show the the best of Oman. We were driven around by Desert Flower Tours which we highly recommend. It’s run by locals who know Oman like the back of their hand. They have previously worked with magazines, photographers and travel TV crews, so they know what they’re doing :-). Different routes and tours are available and they can be tailor-made. The route we took took 5 days and looks like this:

Get ready to go off the beaten track

Day 1: Muscat
Muscat is full of beautiful architecture and culture. Don’t miss the Grand Mosque which is very impressive. TIP: dress accordingly; Pants or an abaya that cover all body parts. They do have traditional clothing for rent before you enter, and we advise you to bring your own head scarf. The Grand Mosque is home to the second largest carpet in the world (until Abu Dhabi’s Grand Mosque stole that title). It took 600 women, 4 years to wave!

Grand Mosque Oman
The impressive Grand Mosque of Muscat

The Mosque can hold up to 20.000 people praying, and there are tours available. We prefer just to walk around and discover the many photogenic corners of the all white Mosque. Prayers are held 5 times a day, which makes the experience even more special. 

Grand Mosque Muscat

Visit the Royal Opera House for a quick look around and take a look at their impressive instrument collection. If you can, visit the Al Alam Palace of the Sultan. It’s a modern and colourful building, overlooking the waters of Oman. If you like to buy a souvenir you can make a stop at the Souq van Mutrah here you can buy spices, jewellery and clothes. This market is a bit touristic, but nevertheless nice to walk around.

Royal Opera House Muscat
In front of the Royal Opera House


Day 2: Hajar Mountains
From Muscat you can drive towards the mountains of Hajar. Stop for lunch at  the Muscat Hills Resort, which is a wonderful beach club/boutique hotel with an Ibiza kinda vibe. They offer a Mediterranean menu, overlooking the private bay of Al Jissah . If you can, stay the night in one of their beach houses with outdoor showers!

Muscat Hills resort
Relaxing at Muscat Hills Resort

You can decide to relax at the beach club a little bit longer (bikini’s allowed), or head into the mountains before evening falls. Anyhow, there is so much more waiting for you along the way..

Oman Mountains

Nature in Oman is not to be compared to anything else. 

Oman Mountains

Driving through the mountains is something special. You see the landscape changing as you go up. Stop at several viewing points and local eateries like Bimah Guesthouse where you can enjoy a local Omani style buffet. TIP: bring some travel sickness tablets, the hairpins in the mountains can make you feel a bit nauseous.

Driving though the mountains on Oman

One of the highlights is Jebel Shams, the grand canyon of Oman. The view is stunning! To get here, you drive past local villages like Balad Sayt and Al Hamra. If you like to hike, this is the place for you. There are short or longer hikes available (W4 and W6 pathways) that will take you past waterfalls and local villages such as the ancient village of Al Khateem.

Lunch break in Oman
Having a break at Bimah Guesthouse

Jebel Shams Oman
The amazing view over Jebel Shams

We slept at mountain eco camp Sama Heights, located in Jebel Shams.This fully-fledged eco resort is the first of its kind in the Sultanate. They offer mountain view private villas made from Omani stone and recycled materials and you can also sleep in Bedouin style tents. When you wake up, the sunrise behind the mountains make it worth your while. We also enjoyed the dinner buffet, with lot’s of vegetarian options!

Sama Heights Resort, Oman
Sama Heights


Day 3: Nizwa & Wahabi Sands
Nizwa one of Oman’s ancient cities and used to be Oman’s capital city. It remains a popular stop for shopping. You can visit the traditional goat market where they auction livestock. It may be a bit daunting at first, but to be fair, I prefer the traditional way compared to the livestock factories back home. Nizwa is also known for the ancient fort, that overlooks the old city.

Nizwa Fort
Nizwa Fort

Nizwa Oman
Nizwa Market

If you have time, grab lunch at Al Aqr Traditional Restaurant and order a mint/lime juice to cool off on their rooftop. They serve delicious homemade humus and baba ganoush, plus other traditional Omani dishes.

Mint juice Nizwa, Oman

Wahabi Sands
After a stroll around Nizwa, you drive towards the Omani desert named Wahabi Sands. As you drive towards the red sand, turn up the Arabian radio to get the real desert vibe! If your tour guide drives a good 4×4 car, he will drift across the sand, and slide sidewards off the sand dunes. Pretty awesome!

Sand driting 4x4 in Oman
Dune bashing

Oryx Arabian Camp Oman from above
Overlooking the camp

Wahabi Sands Oman
Photo by @inhetvliegtuig

In the desert are several camps where you can spend the night. We stayed at the Arabian Oryx Camp, with cute stone houses, and a perfect location. From here you can book several activities such as sand boarding, quad or camel riding, and safari’s though the desert. We advise you to stay for one night.

Oryx Arabian camp

Oryx desert camp Oman
How cute is my room!


Day 4: Wadi Bani Khalid
Take your time and enjoy the morning sun in the desert before heading towards the next adventure. Wadi Bani Khalid is not from the desert and the perfect spot to cool off when it’s hot. Mind you, during the weekend a lot of locals will also come here, so it can get quite busy. If you want to swim in this valley, you need to dress accordingly, No bikini’s allowed!

Wadi Bani Khalid Oman

Wadi bani Khalid

You can also have lunch here, but reserve a table as soon as you arrive during lunchtime. This way you’ll get the best view and saves you waiting for a table. From the restaurant you can walk all the way past the water stream and you can also find the ropes in the water if you feel like playing around.

Oman’s lush northern coast lies between the sea and inland mountains.


Day 4/5: Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve
From Wadi Bani Khalid, you need to drive for about 2 to 3 hours until you reach this special place. If you have never seen sea turtles before, it’s a must do! This turtle reserve is located next to the … coast where many sea turtles lay their eggs during a certain period. Ras Al Jinz Turtle Reserve protects the turtles by organising controlled tourists visits that are done with professional guides.

It’s so magical to see these animals walk into the water, knowing they will return to the same beach in a few years

If you book the night here you have 2 options to see the turtles. One in the evening around 9pm, and one at 5am, when the sun comes up. I opted for the evening watch and it didn’t disappoint! We saw at least 8 turtles coming out of the water, returning, and we saw one female laying her eggs! Turtles are deaf, so they don’t hear you, but they can be sensitive to light. Therefore, the guide provides a special torch so you can watch the turtle without interfering them. It was stunning!

Luxury Tent Oman

Luxury view from tent Oman
Not a bad way to wake up!

We advise you to book one of the luxury tents to make your experience even better. Tents are equipped with a bathroom, airconditioning, TV and a comfortable bed. Book your visit here.


Day 5: Wadi Tiwi & Wadi Shab & Bimmah Sinkhole
On this last day you’ll slowly make your way back to Muscat. There is no time for sleeping in the car, because the landscape you are about to see is out of this world, really.

Lighthouse Sur, Oman
The Sur lighthouse

You can stop at various locations such as coastal town Sur, where they still make the traditional wooden ships that Oman used up until the early 70’s. Here you can also find the lighthouse overlooking Sur and the water which is also full of sea turtles!

The Bimmah Sinkhole will be the highlight of this day. I expected it to be extremely busy, but funny enough, I didn’t see that many tourists. I even got a great photo opportunity 😉

Sinkhole Oman

Oman Sinkhole
Bimmah Sinkhole

Oman
The roadtrip of a lifetime

Verdict: Oman is safe, welcoming and for those who like adventure. Oman even has beaches, but it’s not the Mediterranean of course. If you decide to visit Oman, it’s more likely to be an active holiday, with long (stunning) car rides, great food, interesting culture and nature you cannot compare to anything else. If you want to bring your kids I say, do it, but from the age of 5 years or older.

In one sentence; Oman should be on your bucketlist!

Love,

Elke

How To Decrease Your Ecological Footprint While You Travel

Nowadays, there is so much written about the negative environmental impact of traveling that it almost seems impossible to buy a plane ticket without experiencing any form of guilt. Yet -being a traveler by heart- I’ll be the last person on this (still) beautiful planet to discourage you to jump on that plane towards your next new adventure. In fact, I’m telling you exactly what you do want to hear. Go explore the planet, travel the globe and visit the places of your dreams, but we’ll have to make some changes. Cause while we’re all focusing on that perfect world on our Instagram feed, the real world is slowly drowning in our love for her beauty.

sustainable travel

Sustainable travel
One of those changes is putting sustainability on your holiday checklist. It’s the new IT-word that everybody talks about, but what exactly does it mean? I’ll teach you: Sustainability / Noun / [suh-stey-nuh-bil-i-tee] – the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance. Well, that’s what the dictionary says. To me, sustainable travel is being mindful to the economic, environmental, and cultural impact of travel. So it doesn’t necessarily mean we all have to stop traveling around the globe. By not traveling we will actually create far more severe complications. Many countries depend on tourism as a main source of income. Closing the borders will delay the spread of knowledge, economic opportunities and of course… shutting down the money flow.

It’s about making some smarter decisions that will allow earth to slowly recover to their original ecosystem. So let’s put the money where the mouth is: hereby I provide you with an easy to use guidebook to decrease your own ecological footprint.

Traveling
Choose your way of travel consciously. There are thousands of articles on how to travel cheap and comfortable, but (please) put sustainability on your check-list as well.
Paradise might be closer than you think. We go on 15 hours flights to discover the world while we haven’t even discovered our own country. Find a balance between traveling far and staying closer to home. There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist in your own country. In fact, I promise you it will be more fun than you think.
Calculate the Carbon Footprint of your Flight. Living in the Netherlands, I can understand that it’s sometimes unavoidable to travel further away. Although I love our small, flat, cow-country, it would be pretty difficult to climb mountains here… not to mention getting a tan. But if you can’t stop the urge to fly, you ca compensate by paying for your CO2. Calculate how much you use via this website or book a flight that immediately compensates your CO2 emissions. Also make sure you book your flights with an airline that recycles waste from food, beverages and paper.

At your destination
Support the community you’re visiting by purchasing products from local suppliers. It’s better for the environment, supports the economy and it’s a great way to meet locals.
Combine sightseeing with a workout: rent a bike or walk instead of hiring a car. The advantages are that you can stop whenever you want to take photo’s of the beautiful surroundings (or just a selfie cause the light is great). But moreover, you’ll work on your own health and the health of the globe.
Go for an Eco accommodation. You can choose your hotel that gives you the chance to offset your carbon footprint when you make a booking. By choosing an Eco Resort, you also contribute to the local community. Organisations like Better Places make this possible. By the way, did you know trees can be planted with your donated money for example? 
Mi casa es tu casa. Treat your hotel room like it’s your own house: turn the lights and air conditioning off while leave your room.
Eat vegetarian or vegan foods. Yes this is extremely sustainable. The production of meat and dairy causes more pollution than factories, flights and all traffic combined together. Eating vegetarian is also cheaper most of the time so it’s a win win situation!

how to decrease your ecological footprint

Just as you explore the world, explore which of these guidelines work for you. They are all small steps, but small steps in de good direction. Combine them with your own ideas on how to decrease your ecological footprint and be mindful of your journey. Cause in the end we all want the same thing: make a contribution to a better world.

Love,

Eva

*Eva is one of our guest bloggers from Amsterdam. She’s a city girl who only leaves her heals at home when wearing a backpack. Living by the urge to be where she’s not, to explore, experience, fall and get up. You can follow her on Instagram.

Top 5 » Badass Travel Women around the world

We celebrated international women’s day so a good reason to highlight some amazing women who inspire us to the max. We are so happy to see more and more independent females who pack their bags and travel around the world to show us that it can be done no matter what age, size or background. There are too many amazing women to mention them all but we’ve picked 5 badass travel chicks that we feel set a great example of what a strong female represents.

1. Celine Cousteau, USA & France
She’s a filmmaker, diver and most of all an explorer. Born in California and raised in France, she has certainly seen the world. Celine inspires people all over the world with her documentaires about humanitarian and environmental stories. She speaks 3 languages fluently and uses her voice as a public speaker. Besides all this, she is also a mother to a son. This woman has power!
www.celinecousteau.com

Celine Cousteau badass women
What a woman! 

2. Floortje Dessing, The Netherlands
She’s the most famous traveler from the Netherlands. She has seen the whole world from Amsterdam to Greenland, Japan, The North Pole and even North Korea (she and her TV crew are one of the only ones that were allowed to film there). In total she has visited more than 120 countries and for her latest television show she is visiting Dutch people who live in remote places around the world and the TV program scores high! Besides all her travels, she also gives a lot back and she started a fair-trade sustainable clothing store called Nukuhiva. This woman is far from being done with traveling and we love her for it!

Power woman Floortje Dessing
Our Dutch pride; Floortje Dessing

“These wanderlust women show us that anything is possible”

3. Morgan Brechler, USA
She is the bohemian dream-mother of the world. At least, we think so. Morgan (26) is a (extremely beautiful) young mother from the US who travels and climbs around the most amazing national parks of the USA and other parts of the world with her daughter Haidlie since she was only a small toddler. She recently gave birth to her second child and she is working towards a degree in sustainable agriculture and Morgan is part of a new documentary called Born Wild, celebrating single adventurous mothers who want to instill a love of nature and the outdoors into their children’s lives from the very beginnings. Can we say we are a little bit jealous of this amazing woman? www.instagram.com/morganbrechler

Morgan Brechler badass women
Wanderlust mother Morgan

4. Chelsea Yamase, Hawai
She is a Hawaii-based creative, traveling the world as an athlete, model, and writer. She is followed by many that want to be inspired to travel in an adventurous way. She travels the world with her boyfriend and photographer Sam Kolder, and together they take us on their daily adventures. She is pretty but doesn’t even know it. She is just being herself and showing us the beauty of this world. Follow this girl and be inspired! @chelseakauai

chelseakauai
We are addicted to her Instagram account

5. Roshni Sharma, India
Everybody told her she couldn’t do it and she proved them wrong. She became the first woman in India who drove all the way from Kanyakumari to Kashmir with on her motorbike. The 5452 km long road was dangerous and the trip was long but that didn’t hold her back. Armed with pepperspray, the 26 year old, took on the challenge and finished the journey. You go girl!

Roshni Sharma
The woman and her bike. Source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/

Love,

Wander-Lust

The diversity of Basque Country, Spain

Perhaps Basque Country has never come to mind when thinking of a Spanish holiday but this green part of Spain will pleasantly surprise you.

Basque Country is situated near the border of France and has a landscape that includes mountains, green valleys and coastlines. You can find different scenery all into one region and that’s what makes this place so amazing. It’s a region that is often overlooked in favor of more conventional destinations in Spain. If you decide to visit Basque Country after reading this article (chances are, you will), we have a few tips lined up so you can enjoy everything in just a couple of days.

There are 5 Guggenheim Museums located in Europe. Guess where you can find one of them?

The 3 Cities and their Culture
Basque Country is full of culture. Every year, especially during summer, you can enjoy several exhibitions, activities and events. This year, the capital of Bilbao celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum, where you can find high quality exhibitions that are well worth the visit. The famous landmark is covering a wide variety of artists and themes in both contemporary and modern art. The Guggenheim Museum is housed in Bilbao, Surrounded by mountains and sea, from its origins as
an industrial hub, it has evolved into an international reference point for urban design and has set the standard as a model of urban regeneration. Internationally renowned architects showcase the model regeneration of Bilbao. A city that has managed to find a different way to express itself with design firmly at its heart.. Tip » buy the Bilbao Card to get free access to several museums and attractions. With this card you can travel with Bilbao’s public transport.

bilbao-museo-guggenehim
The Guggenheim Museum

bilbao-puppy_torre-iberdrola_bilbao
Puppy & Torre Iberdrola in Bilbao

San Sebastián, also locally named Donostia, is a beautiful coastal city close to France. It has even won the prestigious title of European Capital of Culture back in 2016. Surrounded by mountains and located next to the sea, it’s a popular place for tourists. Did you know San Sebastián has one of the most beautiful bays in the world with 3 city beaches? Close to San Sebastian, you will find the Cristobal Balenciaga Museoa. This museum is a homage to one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century and you can see selected pieces of his collection. This year, the fashion brand exist a staggering 100 years! 

san-sebastian-bahia-la-concha_san-sebastian
A perfect viewing point over San Sebastians bay

Once voted the “European Green Capital”, Vitoria-Casteiz is surrounded by stunning nature

The third city we need to mention is Vitoria-Gasteiz, once voted the “Green Capital” of Europe. This city is surrounded by nature and is also the most important centre for logistics in Northern Spain. To do’s here are; taking a stroll through the “Green Belt” which is full of flora and fauna and includes wetlands and lakes. There are also some great Jazz festivals and events happening in Victoria, with the best ones in April and August. Another popular attraction is the old quarter they call the “Medieval Almond” where you can find the Cathedral of Santa Maria and a unique project called “open for work” inspired Ken Follet in his novel “World Without End”. To find out more about these 3 amazing cities, check here.

vitoria-murales-casco-viejo-vitoria-gasteiz
The streets of Vitoria

849.00 KM. 7 stages. 109 landscapes.
Another popular thing to do, is to take a roadtrip through the beautiful landscape of Basque Country. On this route you will find beaches, quaint little villages, vineyards and forests. We can imagine that it’s hard to choose between the many options, but you can easily find the route that suits your needs. There are also 3 pilgrim trails that will take you to the more offbeat corners of the Basque Country; The St. James’ Way Coastal Route, which takes you around the countryside and ever changing landscapes. The St. James’ Way Inland Route where you will pass coastal landscapes, greenery, farms and even industrialized localities. You can also opt for the Ignatian Way, a trail that covers 675 km. To find more info about all these routes, check this link. Another highlight is San Juan Gaztelugatxe, a small island connected to the mainland by a man-made bridge. 

gaztelugatxe
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Wine & Dine
If you’re a real foodie like us, you’re at the right place. The food and drinks are very affordable and locally produced, so you can really taste the different regions. Because the gastronomy, from the most traditional to the most innovative, is one of the hallmarks of the Basque Country and is deeply rooted in the daily lives of the people, linked to its history, customs and leisure activities. The secret? The excellence and diversity of the raw materials that the sea and land of the Basque Country provide and the expertise of the great Basque cooks.

bilbao-terrazas-bilbao
There is an unmistakable joie de vivre in Basque Country

Whether you are looking for a lazy beach holiday, a culture trip or an adventurous trail through nature, Basque Country has it all. Maybe it’s time to opt for a different kind of Spain when you book your holiday next time?

Wander-Lust
www.wander-lust.nl

baskenland

Our best travel moments of 2018

As the year comes to an end, it’s time for one of those lists that reminds us, that we are blessed to do this thing we call our job. We travelled far and wide, met new people along the way, and left with a suitcase full of new memories. Here are our best travel moments of 2018.

ISAN, Thailand
International press trip, February 2018
This is by far Elke’s most memorable press trip of 2018. Because we were the first ever international media that had been sent to this region, it was even more special. Elke travelled side-by-side with people from Vienna, UK, Dubai, Romania, Germany and more. The trip took us across the North East region of Thailand, a less explored area, which means less to none tourists, a lot of culture, local food, and stunning nature. We visited several national parks, which included a canyon (San Phan Bok) that consist of thousands of holes, some filled with rainwater. To read the whole story check https://www.wander-lust.nl/off-the-beaten-track-isan-northeast-thailand/.

Our first trip as Wander-Lust Agency, Zarautz
Wander-Lust Agency, September 2018
This summer, we launched our Wander-Lust Agency. Here we connect influencers to brands at a beautiful location. For our first trip, we took influencers @bentheliem and @elisebak. 2 lovely girls with a great style, which we connected to Loreal Biolage, Protest Women, Eastpak and Havaianas. We stayed at Zarautz Surfing Village and slept in deluxe tipi tents. During the day we surfed, explored the area and practised yoga. San Sebastian was only a short train ride away, so great for pincho’s, good coffee and shopping! Are you a brand or influencer that wants to collaborate? Send us an email: info@wander-Lust.nl.


 

Cruising across the French rivers, without a permit
Testing Nicols Boats on the Saône river, July 2018
It was something we had never heard of before, but when Elke got the chance to cruise over the French rivers, and there was no sailing permit needed, she said yes immediately. “Nicols invite me to try it for one week. Cruising from Dole, all the way up to Port Sur Saône by boat. Or may I say yacht. It was huge! The boat they provided for us, was the Estivale Sixto. It had 3 bedrooms, 2 toilets, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen and a living area. Oh, and I forgot to mention the large sundeck big enough for 8 people. Instead of 8 people, me, my hubby and our child Caiden opted for the challenge”. Good news if you want to try this in Holland, Nicols is offering a Dutch route this year! More on that soon..Read the full experience here: https://www.wander-lust.nl/cruising-the-rivers-of-france-with-nicols-without-a-license/

sailing with Nicols
A must try!

Coachella Festival
Palm Springs, CA, April 2018
The festival of festivals. Coachella is everything you would expect it to be and more. It was Sarah’s 2nd time at Coachella, and it didn’t disappoint. With performances from Beyoncé (including Destiny’s Child!!), Dr Dré, Eminem, and many more, it was a week to remember. Will you go next year?

coachella

Greece
Perdika, August 2018
As you guys know, we are big fans of Greece. It’s so stunning, the weather is perfect, the food is yummie and the people are warm and welcoming. Therefore we visit Greece at least every two years to recharge our batteries. Last summer, Elke visited Perdika for the 32nd time (yes, not a lie) to be at her best friend’s Big Fat Greek wedding. Do you want to know more about this part of Greece? Check https://www.wander-lust.nl/greece-explore-the-ionian-islands/


Perdika, Greece

Wine Tasting with Campo Viejo
North Spain, San Sebastian, September 2018
Campo Viejo is a Spanish wine brand that specializes in red wine that comes from the La Rioja region. If you live in The Netherlands, you may have seen their bottles in the Albert Heijn supermarket. Sarah and I are both winelovers, so you we said yes immediately. La Rioja is region located in North Spain and is renowned for it’s local wine industry. The climate is very different than that from Southern Spain, so therefore the wines also taste different. You can fly to Bilbao with KLM and it’s only a 2 hour flight. From there you’ll need to continue by car or bus, as it’s in the middle of the mountains. It was a great trip with lovely people and so much fun! 

Campo Viejo Winery
Picking grapes

Club Med Cefalu
Sicily, October 2018
We experienced the newly opened Club Med Cefalu in Sicily for 6 whole days! The all-inclusive members club is giving their guests the opportunity to relax in this 4 star coastal resort. Several pools, a gym, tennis court and three different restaurants. This place was heaven. Yes, it’s for the traveler that has a little more money to spend, but every dime is worth it. Sometimes you need to treat yourself a little bit, and Club Med is making sure you are treated just fine! (ok, maybe a lot more than fine). Elke also had the chance to explore Sicily which was awesome.

Club Med Cafalu

How about that for some of our best travel moments of 2018! And we are not finished yet.. Elke is flying to Malaysia and Koh Lipe this month, so stay tuned on Instagram.

Happy 2019!

Elke & Sarah

8 x Travel Trends for 2019

What’s happening in the world of travel this coming year? A lot, if we believe Booking.com. They are predicting 8 travel trends for 2019 and we’ve lined them up for you. 

1. Travel to learn
For travelers, making meaningful trips is becoming increasingly important. More than half (56%) of travelers say that traveling has taught them new skills and insights. 68% of respondents want to participate in a cultural exchange and learn new skills, 54% indicate that they want to volunteer and 53% opt for international work placements. We can totally relate and traveled to Bolivia 2 years ago to report about women rights. It was incredible, tough and we learned so much.

2. As easy as possible
In 2019, convenience will become the standard when it comes to technological innovations in the field of travel. The innovations that, according to travelers, will strike the most, are those who offer practical solutions for traveling with artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and speech recognition. Think of opening your hotel room with your smartphone or a robotic concierge who speaks the language of the guests. Crazy? Well, 57% of travelers are interested in solutions such as an app for real-time baggage tracking or one app that has everything for planning and booking their trip. In addition, 31% are interested in the idea of ​​a ‘virtual travel agency’ in their living room, with for example virtual assistants with speech recognition who answer travel questions. 

travel trends 2019

In 2019, a lot is going to happen in the travel world

3. Discover the unknown
When it comes to traveling, we continue to push our boundaries and that includes space tourism. The travel industry and other companies will invest in tests with space travel on earth to make space travel possible. They meet the growing demand of consumers who want to take the big leap. 40% of travelers confirm that they think the prospect of space travel is fantastic, and would also consider this experience themselves (38%). Until space travel becomes reality, 60% of travelers opt for adventure below sea level.

4. The more personal, the better
The generic travel guides are history and make way for shorter but personally relevant content. One third of travelers (34%) want “something” or someone to take the difficult work off their hands and provide them with travel recommendations: 41% would like companies in the travel industry to use technologies such as AI to provide travel suggestions based on on previous travel experiences. The personal is becoming increasingly important; individual recommendations are increasingly giving direction to each journey.

travel trends 2019

5. Awareness Travel
In 2019, the social, political and environmental problems of a possible travel destination will be examined before travelers actually book: 48% of travelers think that social problems in a travel destination are taken into account when deciding on a visit. In addition, travelers are increasingly looking for new and authentic adventures, and want to be sure that they can travel safely – regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation. Platforms such as Destination Pride provide destinations with a score that allows travelers to see how LGBT + are friendly. 19% of travelers plan to visit a Pride festival in 2019, of which almost a third (30%) is between 18 and 34 years old.

6. Fight the plastic problem
Millennials and Gen Z search for sustainability in their destination; looking for opportunities to use less plastic and to work more sustainably. More than a third (37%) is prepared to clean up plastic and other waste on a beach or other tourist attraction.

Julia van Rooij
Surfer Julia van Rooij is fighting the plastic soup

Investing in sustainable start-ups is becoming increasingly important in 2019, because travelers who want to travel responsibly increasingly ask more critical questions about the sustainability of their destination and accommodations. This will lead to a number of new start-ups in the travel industry. 

Tip: Compensate your CO2? check out GreenSeat

7. On the hunt for new experiences
Two-thirds of travelers (60%) value experiences more than equipment. That is why ‘Doing’ when traveling becomes just as important as ‘going’, and perhaps even more important. There is no less pressure on life, and therefore experiences can help to strive for a less stressful existence. In 2019, two-fifths of travelers (42%) plan to visit a destination where they can feel carefree again.

8. Small is good
More than half of the travelers worldwide (53%) say they plan to make more weekend trips in 2019. These small trips are characterised by the fact that more activities are planned in shorter times. ‘Less is more’ is the motto, and consumers swear by custom on these trips. Think of weekend trips, city trips or road trips.


Take a city trip to Budapest!

Pepijn Rijvers, Chief Marketing Officer at Booking.com says: “In 2019 a lot is going to happen in the travel world. Technological innovation continues, the world is increasingly connected and consumer demand for the best travel experiences is constantly growing. 

Happy traveling!

Wander-Lust

All You Need to Know About Applying for a Travel Visa

When you travel to some countries, you may need to apply for a Visa in order to enter. This is not always clear, so we thought we’ll write an article about which countries you need a visa for, and some special cases. But more importantly, how can you arrange a Visa as efficient as possible!

Why & What is a Visa?
It’s an endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country. And it’s that simple. Each country has different rules, and it also depends on where you are traveling from. In the next chapters, we are going to explain what visa’s there are, for which countries you need one, cost, and how you can arrange a visa without too much hassle.

Every country has different rules

Which Countries?
Depending on where you travel or come from, we are going to to highlight the countries you need a Visa for, as if you’re traveling from the European Union. (looking at our biggest target group, this would be the best way forward in regards to the information)

  • Turkey
    Apply for a tourist or Business Visa. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 6 months upon arrival. Cost: €24,95,-. Valid for max 90 days. You can buy the Visa directly at the airport when you arrive, but you will need to stand in line for a long time, so we advise you to do this online.
  • United States
    We call this Visa an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). The ESTA is valid for 2 years for a stay for a maximum of 90 days. Cost: €29,95. You always apply for an ESTA online.

travel

  • Canada
    Instead of applying for a normal Visa, the easiest and cheapest way to enter Canada, is to apply for eTA (electronic Travel Authorization). You need to fill in an online form, in which you are asked several questions, in order to grand you the eTA. No need to print the eTA, it will be linked to your passport and flight, so you have no problem entering. An eTA is valid for 5 years, for a stay of 90 days. Cost: €19,95.
  • India
    The electronic Visa for India can be done online and costs €109,95 per person. You do not have to go to a counter with your passport. Your Visa will be sent by e-mail within a few days. There are 3 different Visa’s to choose from; ‘eTourist visa India’, ‘eMedical visa India’ en ‘eBusiness visa India’. More info about these options here.
  • Egypt
    You can apply online for the tourist Visa. If you have other traveling reasons, you need to go to the Embassy of Egypt. Important: your passport needs to be valid for at least 8 months when entering the country. You can stay in Egypt for a maximum of 30 days with this Visa. Costs: €34,95.
  • Australia
    You can only check in online for flights to Australia, if you own a tourist Visa for Down Under. It’s not expensive, (€14,95) and valid for 3 months. Do check the rules and regulations, because some countries have other rules. Check here for all the info.

  • Vietnam
    From 2018 you can apply for the electronic Visa for Vietnam online, for a total price of €39,95. This saves you the costs of the stamping fee ($25 to $50) and the queue at the arrival airport. Your passport needs to be valid for at least 30 days. (different than in most Asian countries) This only applies to people with a Dutch passport though. Please check the rules and regulations for Vietnam here.
  • Sri Lanka
    Most people won’t stay in Sri Lanka for more than 30 days. In this case you can apply online for an ETA Sri Lanka. If you do want to extend your stay (up to 90 days) you need to visit the Immigration Services Centre in Sri Lanka to do so. Or you can go to your nearest Embassy. Cost: €49,95.
  • Cambodja
    Travelers need to apply for a tourist visa that is valid for 30 days. You can do this online and applies to all European citizens. Cost: €49,95 per person. (kids also need this visa)
  • China
    For China it’s a bit more complicated. European citizens must all apply for a visa and this Visa will need to be entered into your passport. Most people go to the Chinese Embassy, but you can also send it via courier in order to save you a trip. There are 4 different travel visa’s available, so check here which one you should get. 
  • Cuba
    This visa isn’t so expensive. It costs €39,95, and you can do it online if you stay up to 30 days. It will then arrive by post and you need to keep it in your passport, that needs to be valid for another 7 months. There are a few rules though, such as you can’t arrive via or from the USA. For more info and all the regulations check this website.
  • Thailand
    If you come as a traveler or tourist for less than 30 days, you don’t need a Visa for Thailand. If you are there for other purposes (such as voluntary work, or a business trip), you always need to apply for a visa, even if it’s for less than 30 days. For every traveler, it’s necessary to have a valid passport for at least 6 months during your stay. More info here.

passport

It’s Never Been So Easy
Looking back a few years, it wasn’t always so easy to apply for a Visa. Trips to the Embassy were almost inevitable, but times have changed my friends! For Dutch and Belgium citizens, you can visit www.visumbuitenland.nl. They offer 24/7 support, and payments can be done with ideal. Do you live in another country? Then we advise you to always check online to see what rules apply. But now you know which visa you may need, how much it costs and that you can always arrange this online! Easy peasy 🙂

Enjoy hassle free traveling!

Wander-Lust

All you need to know about the TAO Expedition in The Philippines.

Are you a Adventurous Traveller? Do you need a break from modern society? If so, this 5-day Boat tour in the Philippines is the escape for you! Sail into paradise and explore the most remote islands between Coron and El Nido in the North of Palawan! This is everything you need to know before booking the Tao Expedition.

You live like the local people during this expedition! Wi-Fi? Not on the TAO sailing boats! Sometimes there is a possibility to use power, but that’s it! This is a good way to take time for yourself and get away from all those Social Media Notifications popping-up all the time!
While you are on the boat with 15 to 20 other explorers, you are completely free in the things you want to do! Try to catch some tuna while fishing from the back of the boat, help the chef preparing a meal, get behind the wheel like a real sailor or share your travel stories with the crew while you enjoy your jungle-Juice! It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you have the time of your life!

Philippines

The days on the tour are packed with adventure! The great thing about this trip is that you are never sure where you end up! Because of the climate in the Philippines the weather isn’t always your best friend! That’s why they change routes all the time and you are never sure what you see/do and where you will be sleeping. However there are some highlights you are definitely NOT going to miss while exploring the islands and waters between Coron and El Nido!

Tao tour Philippines

Jump in the turquoise blue waters and Snorkel in the most amazing spots of this tropical archipelago! Enjoy the Beautiful sunsets and after a long day on the boat, chill on the beach and watch the milky way sparkle in the sky! The Tao expedition brings you back to basics, it disconnects you from the modern world and re-connects you with nature! The crew exists of local people who know everything about the area you are sailing in, they have respect for nature and everything you can find there! This is what they try to learn to the people who came and joined them on the tour!

Beach Philippines

The best time for the TAO Expedition
The best time to take this tour in the Philippines is between October and May, this is the dry season. There is also the possibility to ​book an expedition​ during the rainy season from June till September, but expect some rainy days! It is not possible book during the month September.

Prices
The 5-day Tao Expedition will cost you $545,- (Php26.900,-) in low season and $655,- (Php32.400,-) in peak season! Of course this is a lot of money, but if you look to it in a different way it is not that bad.
This price includes:
● 5 days of travel
● 4 nights of TAO style camping
● the wild open nature and island living
● Freshly prepared meals, snacks and drinks (drinking water, tea, coffee, sunset
cocktails)
● mask and snorkels (no fins)

TIP: Bring extra cash upon checking in for Alcoholic drinks and Merchandise. Recommended amount: $60,- (Php3.000,-) – $100,- (Php5.000,-) per person

Filipino fresh fish
Fresh food at the TAO Expedition

Everyday you have an activity, from snorkeling to fishing! You have the transport covered from A to B, Coron to El Nido or the other way around! All meals are included and you get the most amazing beaches to sleep on every night! If you see it this way, $109,- (Php5.380,-) / $131,- (Php6.480,-) for a day is a good price for a unforgettable trip in the Philippines!

Other Experiences
TAO offers way more then just this tour. The following tours are available at the moment:
● Boat Expeditions (5 day, 3 day, sailing or private)
● Island Stay
● Combo Experience
● Mountain Treks & Retreat
Have a look ​here​ for more information about the different tours.

Sleeping on the beach, Philippines
Not a 5-star hotel, but a priceless view (photo by @wanderlust.nl)

How to get there?
You can book this tour from either Coron to El Nido or the other way around. To get to Coron you can take a Domestic Flight with a 40 minute transfer to the town. When you are in Manilla there is also the possibility to take a Ferry to Coron which leaves once a week and will take you 12 to 14 hours. For price details and time schedules visit the 2GO​ website. When you start your Boat tour from El Nido there are two options. Fly direct to El Nido, or fly to Puerto Princesa and take a 6 hour bus ride to El Nido.

Good To Know
This is not everyone’s idea of a holiday! It might be bad weather, it might be rough waves, limited privacy, barking dogs, crowing roosters, mosquito bites, jellyfish stings, sunburns. But that is all part of the experience: the unexpected, the unknown, stepping outside of your comfort zone. Still interested? Book early to avoid disappointment. (and early is months in advance, especially during the high season)

Keep on exploring!

John

*John is one of our guest bloggers from Nijverdal. He’s a guy from the Country with a desire to travel, a passion for sports and a love for food. “Never try, Never know!” Follow him on Instagram!

For more Tips & Recommendations for the Philippines check out the ​previous posts:

 

Brides-Les-Bains » Wellness and Ski

Wellness combined with an active lifestyle. That’s how I can describe Brides-Les-Bains, a town in the middle of the French Alps. I was invited to explore the area so you can make the decision whether this town is the best option for you.

While Méribel is more high end and can be quite expensive, Brides-Les-Bains is more affordable

Brides-Les-Bains is the first town you will find when you visit the Three Valleys ski domain and consists of several towns; Courchevel, Val Thorens, Méribel, Les Menuires, Saint-Martin-de Belleville, La Tania, Orelle and Brides-Les-Bains. While Méribel is more high end and can be quite expensive, Brides-Les-Bains is more affordable and also very suitable for families and couples. The town’s name was named after the many thermal baths in the area, hence the name “Les Bains”. Back in the day, the town was mainly used by people that wanted to get their bodies back into shape but the Olympic Games back in 1992, gave Brides-Les-Bains a big boost and people from all over the world started to show interest in both wellness and skiing.

Brides Les Bains, France
Stunning views in the Valley

How to get there
Always a good way to start an article because if you can’t find it..;-) Brides-Les-Bains is about a 2 hour drive from Genève airport, which is only a 1 hour flight from Amsterdam. I prefer flying to a skiing destination because it saves you so much time! (I remember the days when I sat in the car for 13 hours, feeling pretty exhausted and having no energy left to go skiing the next morning). Flights cost around 180 euro’s return and if you book early, you might get a better deal!

Accommodation
Staying in Brides-Les-Bains is for those who are clever enough to spend less money but still enjoy the same slopes and activities as the people that like to stay closer to the mountain top. The “Olympe” cable car will take you right on top of the mountain and makes 2 stops which takes around 20 minutes in total. If you want to stay in Brides-Les-Bains, you have many options but one of the nicest hotels in town is the Mercure Grand Hotel Les Thermes. Why? Well, it has a spa for one (including a sauna and steam room!) and offers spa treatments such as facials and massages. There is a large restaurant that offers typical French food with a healthy twist, and the rooms are spacious and clean. Oh, and the bed sleeps magnificent! (I know because I slept like a baby) A double room will cost around 150 euro’s but if you book well in advance you..well, you catch my drift.

Relaxing the the spa


Lunch on the piste is healthy and nutritious! 

To Do’s
Ok, there will be skiing involved, (I promise you), but hear me out. Brides-Les-Bains actually has a lot more to offer than meets the eye. I tried a couple of different activities and I really loved them all. Whether it’s winter, or summertime, the area is a healthy destination 365 days a year. Let’s take a look:

» Skiing & Snowboarding. During the winter you can discover about 600 km of slopes. Insane! It’s suitable for beginners or pro’s and you can even take the chairlift to ski in Val Thorens.
» Après Ski. La Folie Douce is the place to be if you’re looking for a great party on the pistes. With a panoramic view of the mountains, you can have a lavish lunch here (expect high end prices), and enjoy a show of dance, singing and fireworks. People end up dancing on the tables and champagne is flowing in the VIP. Don’t forget that you still need to make it down in one piece! 😉

Brides Les Bains

» Biathlon. You know the winter Olympics, where they cross-country ski in between the trees and then take out a big gun and manage to shoot at a tiny bullseye? Well, I did just that, minus the 20km cross country skiing. Laying down on the snow, I hit all the targets, but standing up was soooo difficult. Imagine doing that after an intensive ski course. I really gained respect for this sport, that was originally used as a military exercise!
» Snowshoeing. Yep, this is an activity that might seem a bit dull at first, but it’s basically hiking through the snow and enjoying some of the best views in the valley! I personally love that kind of stuff because we walked through the trees and discovered an igloo, animal tracks and a restaurant where they served freshly made gluhwein!

Biathlon shooting

Gluhwein
The perfect stop after some snowshoeing

»Paragliding, for the daredevils, this is a wonderful activity. For me? Not so much.
» Helicopter Rides. There is a tiny airport at Méribel that is mainly used for hobbyist that own their own (small) planes but you can also book helicopter rides, with magnificent views over the valley.

Heli ride in maribel
Trying to look cool next to the Helicopter


Snowshoeing. Photo by Chris Konig

During the summer you can go hiking or mountain biking and most travelers come here to combine their active lifestyle with a chance to completely relax in the thermal baths.

Wellness
This topic needs a separate section because Brides-Les-Bains is really known for its spa life. Most decent hotels will have one and if they don’t you MUST visit the thermal baths just around the corner. It’s used all year round and the town is especially welcoming to those trying to lose a few pounds. Thermal baths are known for helping people with their weight loss because of the warm and cold water which helps circulate the blood. Weight loss treatments are actually covered by the French health insurance and doctors send overweight people to the spa’s in Brides-Les-Bains to get them back into a healthy shape. Most hotels within the area also offer low fat meals such as the Mercure Grand Hotel Les Thermes.

To find out more about Brides-Les-Bains, visit their website
For more info about the French Alpes check here.
 
Love,
 
Elke