9 Things you need to know about Amsterdam before visiting

Having lived in Amsterdam for over 15 years now, we can say we are well-established locals. There are some misconceptions about Amsterdam, and we would like to clear things up. They might come in handy for first time visitors.

1. Amsterdam is not just about parties and prostitutes

Amsterdam is a popular destination for bachelor parties. There are plenty of clubs and the Dutch capital has the red light district. Truth is that most locals won’t ever set foot in the red light district unless they need to pass it on their way. Firstly, the women behind the windows are mostly foreign and secondly, the shops and café’s are mainly here for tourists purposes. It will probably disappoint. If you visit Amsterdam for the first time, we advise you to skip this tourist trap and go for the more local experience. Yes, there is so much more to Amsterdam than the tourist district.

2. Cannabis isn’t officially legal in The Netherlands

Now, the drugs. Did you know that cannabis isn’t officially legal in The Netherlands? (shocking right?) Weed in the Netherlands is actually decriminalised (‘toleration policy’). This basically means that it’s tolerated. When it comes to growing your own, this is another story. Locals can grow up to five cannabis plants, but if you start growing on a larger scale or decide to sell the weed, this is a major no go. Very confusing, we know. As a result coffeeshops in Amsterdam hire people to get the soft drugs and bring it for them. So can you officially smoke weed on the streets of Amsterdam? technically no, but if you have less than 5 grams on you and you are not causing a public disturbance, you are fine.

weed in Amsterdam

3. Bicycles rule the streets of Amsterdam

This is an unwritten rule. No matter if you ride a Harley or monster truck, people on bicycles are relentless. Cyclist ignore stop signs and find their way through the most narrow streets, plus they always seem to be in a hurry. As a pedestrian, you need to watch yourself. Before crossing the streets of Amsterdam, make sure you look to every direction possible, twice. Just obey by this rule and you will be fine.

Some tourists think Amsterdam is a city of sin, but in truth, it is a city of freedom.

4. Rent a bicycle

On the other hand, this may seem a bit in contrast to our previous tip, but renting a bicycle is a must do if you visit Amsterdam. This is the best way to see the city and enjoy it. On a bicycle you can get to places you wouldn’t get to if you go by foot or public transport. You will discover little alleys and the prettiest canals. Renting a bike is possible almost anywhere in the city center. Make sure you bring your ID and wear a helmet if you don’t feel too confident.

Bicycle in Amsterdam

5. Be prepared for all weather conditions

This basically means you need to pack you raincoat, umbrella, sunglasses and sunscreen. The Dutch weather can play tricks on you so come prepared! If you want to be certain, check this website which tells you exactly if the rain is coming and for how long it will last. Subsequently, when there is a ray of sunlight, the Dutch run outside and sit outside on any terrace in the city they can find.

6. Get yourself a OV Chipcard

A what?? Basically an OV Chipcard is the same as the English equivalent of an Oystercard. If you’re likely to visit Amsterdam again, this card is very useful and will save you money on public transport. It is also convenient because you can quickly add new credit. You can do this at most train stations or supermarkets. Since of last year, it’s only possible to pay by bank card in the tram and busses. No cash!

7. Get out of the city centre and explore

Did you know that just outside Amsterdam, you have a huge forest called Het Amsterdamse Bos or Oeverlanden? This is a must visit if you have kids because there is a goat farm, a large lake, beautiful walking paths and an outdoor theater. But there is more, find out how to escape the hustle and buzz.

Nature in Amsterdam
Yes, this is in Amsterdam

8. Download the Via Van app

To clarify, once you’ve downloaded Via Van, it works the same as Uber, the only difference is, that you might have to share your ride with another passenger along the way. Therefore it’s much cheaper than any other taxi. You need a credit card to connect the app and there is no need to pay the driver in cash.

9. These are the parties you do not want to miss

There are a few dates in Amsterdam that you should mark into your diary. Firstly, it’s Kingsday on the 27th of April. Secondly, the Dutch also celebrate freedom on May 5th. And if you’re up for it, check out the Amsterdam Gay Pride on the 27th of July until the 4th of August. Just look at the header photo and you’ll understand. 

Do you want to know where to eat and what to do in the Dutch capital? Find the best local tips in our Amsterdam Guide below!

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

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

Best countries to visit for when you’re on a budget

If you have the wanderlust virus , you know you feel need to travel as much as possible. However, your bank account doesn’t always agree. If you still want to enjoy the beauty of a long stretched beaches, feel the sun glowing on your skin and discover new cultures, we are happy to tell you that you can do this on a small budget. These are 8 countries you should visit if you don’t want to break the bank.

1. Cambodia, Asia

Daily budget: 15 euro or less

Cambodia is a very cheap destination, even by Southeast Asian standards. If you’re really on a budget and you keep your daily spending to a minimum, you can live on an amount of 10 to 15 euro’s per day. Firstly, accommodation can be found for as little as 4-5 euro’s per night (for a simple hut or hostel) and even the alcohol is cheap here. Secondly, if you eat the local food, you won’t spend more than 4 euros on a 2 course meal. Flights cost about 500 euro’s if you book ahead of time.

Angkor Wat. travel on a budget
One of the cheapest countries for travel

2. Thailand, Asia

Daily budget: 20 euro or less

If you’ve been to Thailand, you know you can live there as a King or a Queen. When I was there I had a massage almost every day and it only cost me about 5 to 10 euro’s. Thailand has one of the finest cuisines in the world but you can dine here for about 5-10 euro’s per person. (this includes your drinks!) It’s the ultimate backpacking country with a lot of cheap accommodation available. Thailand also has many options, you can make it as expensive as you want.

Koh Lipe. best countries to visit when you're on a budget
It’s never boring in Thailand

3. Georgia

Daily Budget: 27 euro

This destination is high on demand and made it on many top destination lists for 2019. Why? Adventure seekers have discovered the stunning nature of this country, plus it’s very affordable! Because Georgia isn’t rampaged by tourists, prices remain low, also for accommodations. If you decide to go backpacking for 14 days, you can do it with a budget of 400 euro per person. This is unheard of in western European countries. Time to out Georgia on your bucketlist? 

georgia
Stunning Georgia

4. Albania

Daily Budget: 28 euro

Never though of Albania? Well, time to change that! Albania is an underrated country with many mountains, canyons and the Ionian coastline. Albania isn’t full of tourists and therefore prices are very good! Be the first to discover hidden beaches and coves, or walk around in the Albanian Alpes. 

Albania, countries to visit when you are on a budget

5. Nicaragua

Daily Budget: 28 euro

We do not understand why we haven’t been here yet, because this place has it all. Untouched beaches, cute towns, rough nature, volcano’s and it’s extremely cheap to trek around. Above all, the country is relatively tourist free, which is also a big plus for many amongst us. Hotel rooms are an average of 15 euro per night. On average, a couple can live comfortably in Nicaragua for 1200 euro per month, not bad!

beer in Nicaragua
Have another beer in Nicaragua!

6. Greece, Europe

Daily budget: 30 euro or less

I’m speaking out of experience because as you might know because I have been to Greece many times. Firstly, food is one of the cheapest in Europe. For instance, you can feast on a large main course for only 6-9 euro’s. A beer will cost you about 2 euro’s. You will pay double the price in places like Mykonos and Santorini but if you visit the main land or Islands like : Folegandros, Lefkas or Naxos, you can definitely add Greece to your budget destination list.

Greece is great if you're on a budget
Lefkas (Lefkada) is great for budget travel

7. Philippines, Asia

Daily budget: 25 euro or less

It’s not the cheapest of the Asian countries we’ve mentioned but it certainly deserves a place in our top 8 and the reason it’s at number 7 is because of the long flight. The flight is by far the most expensive part of your trip but if you’re lucky you can get a cheap flight at around 600 euro’s per person. On the other hand, the Philippines are pretty untouched by mass tourism (unlike Thailand for example), as a result it can be more difficult to get around sometimes. That’s way you tend to spent more on boats, domestic flights etc. Read more about The Philippines.

Philippines Bohol
Relaxing in the Philippines

8. Bolivia, South America

Daily budget: 25 euro or less

Bolivia is a very popular destination for backpackers, simply because it’s very affordable to travel. There is something for every budget. Even the good hotels offer reasonable prices. (a 4 star hotel is available for as little as 80 USD) 

9E975C5901
Chill.. cuz your money isn’t going anywhere

In short, budget travel is possible, it just depends on the country you want to visit. And let’s be honest, the above options aren’t so bad right?

Love,

Wander-Lust

More tips?

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.

Visiting Bali for the first time? Here is all you need to know

Oh hello sunshine, nature, palmtrees and fresh coconuts! Are you planning (like most people we know) to visit the island of the gods, Bali? Here are some tips if you’re heading there for the first time. 

Before you leave home

Visa and passport: in addition to a valid passport (which must be valid for at least 6 months) you also need a visa. You will receive this visa free of charge on arrival at the following international airports; Jakarta, Bali, Medan and Surabaya. You can stay in Bali for up to 30 days. Please note: arrival and departure days are counted and this free visa can not be extended. So if you want to stay longer than 30 days (and believe us, this happens), then you must arrange the visa before departure and make sure you have a return ticket, because that is mandatory.

Money: the currency on Bali is the Rupiah. Since banks are not everywhere and the exchange rate can fluctuate heavily, it is useful to exchange your money at the airport. Make sure you have enough money with you when traveling to a remote area.

Vaccinations: against Hepatitis A and DTP are recommended when you go to Indonesia on vacation. Fortunately, you do not have to take malaria pills in many areas; Bali and East and West Java are mostly malaria free. Check the map of malaria areas. And then you still have those annoying mosquitos. You do not hear them, but you do feel them! So it is handy to bring an anti-mosquito that contains DEET.

Kids
Bali is a great place for those traveling with kids. Find out what you can do and what kids activities there are with young children.

Bali with Kids

Suitcase or Backpack?
Do you travel around for a long time and do you travel from place to place? Then we advise you to bring a backpack. There is often heavy-handed handling of your stuff and we have already experienced a few cases that go wrong. The disadvantage is of course that you can take less, but on the other hand you often take too much clothing, which is not necessary on Bali. Will it be a beach holiday and will you stay in a resort? Then a backpack is not necessary and a suitcase is very nice.

Packing tips
In Bali you enjoy a tropical climate and the humidity can be high in some places. Some handy packing tips:
1. Pack as many light and cotton clothing as possible.
2. Bring along a long skirt and Sarong for when you visit one of the many temples.
3. Bring that hat! The sun is lovely, but nobody wants a sunstroke.
4. A one-suit is useful if you want to surf, it keeps your belly from getting scraped on the board.
5. If you are planning to go to Bali from December, then a thin rain jacket is useful.

Bali surfbabe
Ready to surf? 

Go check out
» Dreamland Beach – the name says it all
» Ubud – Rice Terraces, Healthy hotspots like Sari Organic and the Ubud Hanging Gardens resort (must see)
» Canggu – Crate Café, Canggu-Desa Seni Yoga, The Chillhouse
» Uluwatu – Rock Bar & Single Fin
» Tanah Lot (just to take that one beautiful picture)
» Nusa Lembongan, 30 min by boat – top for surfing

Dreamland beach bali
Dreamland Beach Source

Bali best hangouts 2019

Better to avoid
» Water from the tap. Buy your water in bottles and check if the cap is unopened. Drinking water safely? Then this thing is a godsend. Be careful with salads and peel the fruit well. Otherwise you might be more in the toilet than on the beach.
» Petting dogs, especially when Although they look cute, their have been reports of rabies and Sarah got bitten last year and needed several injections.
» Kuta. If you do not like mass tourism, avoid busy Kuta. Prices are higher, the food is not very tasty and the beach is a bit disappointing, mostly covered in plastic. However, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but we know that there are better places on Bali than Kuta.

shopping in Bali
Make a good deal whilst shopping for goodies

In Bali it’s normal to..
» Have your own ‘driver‘. This is a tip that you can certainly save money if you want to see the whole island. Learn a few words Balinese and make a clear arrangement with your taxi driver. If you do it right, he will drive you around for a fixed price. Use your good old intuition, but pay attention that he does not take you to all kinds of shops or tourist places where they might receive commission from.
» Make some deals. It is a game between tourist and salesman, especially in the market you can play with the price.
» Give tips. The friendly people in Bali are not very broad. Do they wear your suitcase or are you well helped? Give a nice tip.
» Rent a scooter and explore the island. Make sure you always wear a helmet!

Bali on a scooter

Ready? So pack your bags and fly to paradise!

Wander-Lust

5 Beautiful Destinations for Safe Female Solo Travel

As a woman, it’s important to feel save when you travel abroad. In some countries is better than others, but with my personal experience and lot’s of stories from fellow female travelers, we found that these 5 countries deserve to be mentioned when it comes to Safe Female Solo Travel.

Canada

A beautiful destination which, funny enough, is yet to be discovered by backpackers. Because of this fact, it’s not packed with tourists and even more reason to visit! The roads are well maintained so perfect for renting a van and cruise through the beautiful nature. There are many campings in the middle of nature and near cities that are very secured. Canada is perfect for women that love a little adventure; from kayaking with orca’s and watching humpback whales, to stunning hikes, it’s all possible and easily arranged. The only resident you should be wary off, is the grizzly bear! But if that’s all?

Australia
Perhaps is no surprise but Australia is really one of the best places to start as a solo traveler. Everything is well arranged for the backpacker. I speak from experience, because I did it for 4 months and had the best time! Public transport, travel cards, discounts for backpackers, it’s all available in Australia. Downsider: Australia can be quite expensive so my TIP is to eat as much vegetarian food in order to save some cash, and stay away from the booze. For more money saving tips, check our 6 tips to travel for free.

Thailand

South East Asia is pretty safe to travel around but Thailand is taking the lead. 4 years ago I traveled to Thailand on my own and I was a little worried that I would feel alone. The worry was for no reason, because I met some lovely people in no-time that I am still in contact with! TIP: The hygiene in Asia is not always of the highest standard so always bring some disinfectant wipes, diarrhoea pills and antihistamine for allergies. Thinking about traveling to Thailand? Check out our Thailand section for all the best tips!

Iceland
This country is topping the charts of the Global Peace Index for years. There is relatively little crime and the country is doing pretty well economically. Because of this, the infrastructure is well arranged. Start your trip in Reykjavik and visit the picture perfect Blue Lagoon or the Northern light. Bring your camera girls, instagram is going to love it where you are! Guest editor Jolien took a trip and has some inside tips on where to go!


Guest editor Jolien in Iceland

Portugal

Sun, sea, delicious food and friendly people. Portugal has it all! From vibrant cities to the cliffs of the Algarve, you can go anywhere. Life isn’t too expensive and there are a lot of amazing eco-lodges, campings and resorts where you can totally relax. Inside Tip: Visit Eco Resort Into The Wild Algarve, where you can sleep in a tipi or a luxurious treehouse! 


Sleep in a bohemian tipi in Portugal

But to sum it up, I think the most important weapon a woman has, is her intuition. Does it feel off? Don’t go with it but just enjoy your trip of a lifetime!

Love,

Elke

Shoot Amazing Drone Photo’s Without Experience!

Recently we travelled through Malaysia & Thailand and wanted to shoot extraordinary photo’s. Because we don’t own a drone we hired one without needing a flying course. So did we manage to shoot some good footage? You’ll be the judge.

I had never flown a drone before, or even held one. But damn, you can take the most amazing shots with them and drone photography inspires the hell out of me, so it was time to put my skills to the test. I was planning a trip to Asia, which meant tons of drone photo opportunities with beaches, palmtrees and crystal clear water.

Things you should know before flying a drone:

  • No flying after dark or within 5 miles of an airport (unless you can get authorization)
  • Near people’s heads, moving cars, a sports stadium.
  • If you travel abroad, you should check the rules that apply for that country. For some you are required to register your drone and pay a small fee in order to bring it through customs. However, Thailand officially required such a document, but because I was traveling per boat to Koh Lipe, I took my chances and didn’t apply. Getting the document can take up to a few months and I was too late with that. It’s a small risk I was willing to take. Rules about drones change fast and regularly so always check what rules may apply to your country of choice.

Rent a drone
Because I didn’t own a drone, I came across a business in the Netherlands that hires drones without a pilot. You rent the drone per day and you pay a small deposit for safety reasons. The drone includes 2 batteries, charger and extra propellors. Me and my boyfriend opted for the DJ1 Mavic Pro, which is compact enough to fold up and pack. 

First Flight
Our first opportunity and go was at Koh Adang, a Thai island across from the more popular Koh Lipe. In the beginning it’s a bit scary to fly because you are scared your drone will crash in the water, or the wind will take it down. This is the result of our first ever drone shot, not bad right? My boyfriend Jesse flew most of the time because I wanted to be in the picture. (such a diva!)


Our first ever drone shot!

After that more followed. We also shot some video.


Maybe I should work on my heart drawing skills a bit more though..?

This next shot was taken on Koh Lipe where we found a sandbank that was free of people, in order to take that perfect shot!

Koh Lipe


Pretending that I was on a deserted island in Malaysia. Truth is that 2 meters away there was a beach bar 😉

Verdict; Hiring a drone is such a good idea! As you can see, the images turned out pretty good (if you don’t mind us saying so ;-)). We hired our drone at www.dronehurenzonderpiloot.nl in the Netherlands and we can really recommend it. You just pick up your drone, and you will get an explanation how to use your drone. You need to figure out your color and ISO settings yourself so we advise you to watch a couple of YouTube video’s in order to get the best results. For all cost per drone check their cost sheet.

Are you ready to take your travel photography to the next level?

Love,

Elke

This is how you score the cheapest flights!

We all want it; score the cheapest flights. Did you know that there are several tricks you can use in order to do so? Here are 6 tips on how you do it.

1. Identify the cheapest day to fly
Yes, flying on Saturday can be way more expensive than flying on a Monday for example. This also varies per destination, so do your research and you’ll save money on flights

32% of individuals prefers to spend their money on travel

2. Frequent Flyer Miles
You may not even realize that you have saved aviator points on your flights. I fly with KLM a lot, so I tend to look for flights with them for far distance flights. Every time you fly, you save up points and you can use them to reduce cost or to upgrade yourself into business class. Also check which airlines your credit card company is connected to before you make your decision. If you live in The States, your airline preference will be a lot different than if you live in Europe. One rule always applies; the higher your ticket price, the more miles you save. 

hand infront of window seat plane

3. Do the Math
Sometimes is cheaper to buy 2 one-way tickets instead of one return. This is rarely the case, but it does happen sometimes. I did this for my trip to Australia once. I arrived in November and departed early February so I left just after the high season, which made it a better deal.

4. Consider a different airport
Amsterdam Schiphol isn’t the only airport in The Netherlands right? You have Rotterdam and Eindhoven, plus you can take a peek at the neighbours in Düsseldorf. A different airport can save you a lot of money. However, you need to travel there first, so check how much extra time and cash it will cost you, so that it’s worth the fuss.


You in a couple of months?

5. Set a fare alert
We understand you can’t be on your laptop forever trying to look for the cheapest flight. Therefore you can set a fare alert which will notify you when there is a good deal for your favourite destination. You get the alert right into your mailbox, super easy!

But now the biggest tip of them all:

6. Use a travel metasearch website
There are websites that researches all the above mentioned points so you don’t have to do the work. Our favourite website to do so is called momondo. Based on billions of data from searches at momondo, it tells you how to find the best flight tickets from Amsterdam to Europe and the rest of the world. It compares all the different airlines, so that you don’t have to. What is more:

1. Their flight forecast in flight search results tells you how many days in advance to book for specific destination, which day of the week is the cheapest to fly and what time of a day is your best bet.

2. In the end this will save you some cash to spend more on cocktails! 😉

3. They also offer hotels and car hire, always handy!

And best of all, using this website is completely free of charge. Their prices won’t go up because of the saved cookies on your desktop (that you see with different airline websites) so it’s always a Win-Win! Check here to find the cheapest flights on momondo.

Did you know that January, February, March are the best months to book your European summer holiday? What are you waiting for, get booking for the cheapest flights!

Love,

Elke

More travel tips?

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