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

5 Misconceptions About Being A Flight Attendant

Being a flight attendant is a job that provides the possibility to travel frequently and meet new people from all over the world. Amber took the plunge and made a 180 degree life change. After a long and exciting selection process, a ‘new way of life’ was born. Different than you may think, the life of a flight attendant is not only about adventure, glamour, luxury or a romance with the captain. There are plenty of misconceptions and a lot of things you might not know. It’s time to find out what’s it really like!

life-of-a-flight-attendant-1

1. You need to be fit and ready
Passenger safety is the most important role for a flight attendant. Rule number one is to be fit to work, so no alcohol is allowed 10 hours prior to our duty. We have to go trough 4 weeks of training and a re-qualification every year. The exams are extremely stressful and concerns flight safety, self-defense and first aid. Floating trough the aisle serving coffee and tea is much further down the list of the responsibilities of a flight attendant.

Let’s get one thing out in the open, I have never dated a pilot.

2. We are not all dating a pilot
A typical day starts with packing my suitcase, applying basic make-up, putting my hair up and wearing my clean and shiny blue uniform with pride. There’s only one thing to add: a brilliant smile! When scheduled on early flights I meet my colleagues at the airport around 6am. On standard European flights the crew consist of a captain, first officer and two flight attendants. Once I’ve met my colleagues for the day it’s time to head to the briefing room to prepare and discuss the flights for the next few days. It’s always magical to experience how four strangers become such a strong and reliable team within a few minutes after getting to know each other. I really appreciate the colleagues I have to work with but let’s get one thing out in the open, I have never dated a pilot. To be honest.. Since the day I started working as a flight attendant, I’ve never witnessed any love bloom between any of the crew. Of course this is an illusion and I’m pretty sure there will be colleagues who secretly hook up during a layover. It’s really not all that different from other jobs.

life-of-a-flight-attendant-3

3. Being a flight attendant can be far from glamorous
A lot of passengers think flight attendants are responsible for everything om board. They do have a point. Unfortunately lifting hand luggage in the overhead bin is not part of our job. We are not all cross fit athletes. When passengers assume that their trolley is way to heavy to lift, they call the flight attendant to stow it. I’ll give them a friendly smile and i’m begging them to stop traveling with carry-on bags they can’t handle. I quietly whisper: “If you can’t sling it, don’t bring it.” The average duration of a flight is less then one hour. Within this time we have to offer a full service to a maximum of one-hundred passengers. There is not much time left for chatting in the galley or hanging out in the cockpit. The job is far from glamorous and the workload can be very high some days. As a flight attendant you’re working your ‘but off’ whilst being patient, putting effort in your work and providing a smile from ear to ear.

4. Layovers are often short
After three or four flights we arrive on our final destination for that day, somewhere in Europe. We quickly grab our suitcases and catch the taxi to bring us to our temporary ‘home’ for the night. The hotels are brilliant and often located close to the city and equipped with a gym and sauna. We receive a daily allowance to spend on food and other sundries. The company is doing their best to create the optimum conditions. Most layovers are short, and you barely have time to spend the money. After a 10-hour shift most of the crew will decide to go for a nap or chill out at the hotel. If there’s some energy and time left, we’ll go on a local excursion, have a few drinks in town or visiting some other places of interest. Luckily I am an high-energy person! I like wandering on my own and visit places I haven’t seen before. Hiking trough the beautiful nature of Norway was one of my best experiences. The moments I’m making unforgettable memories it is hard to believe this is actually part of the job. The wake-up call at 4am quickly brings me back to reality as a new day of work is ahead with an early flight back to Amsterdam!

life-of-a-flight-attendant-4

5. The life of a flight attendant can be very lonely
The life of a flight attendant is not only about glitter and glamour. It’s way more then that. The long shifts, delays and difficulties on board with demanding passengers can be a real challenge. Beside this it is not easy to organize your social life when you’re abroad 4 nights in a row. The life of a flight attendant can be very lonely. You basically live out of a suitcase, miss your best friends birthday, skip your favorite festival and spend less quality time with your family.

Let me end this story by saying that I do love my job and I am very proud to live the ‘dream’ of a flight attendant! Especially when you realize only a few of those who applied actually got hired. The lovely colleagues, friendly passengers and the wonderful destinations are the reason this job is given me so much energy. Since I started as a flight attendant I experienced the amazing continent we live in. Instead of watching television or doing the laundry at home, I spend my spare time having diner outdoors and enjoying the facilities and luxury of a 5 star hotel.

If you focus on the load of experiences you get trough this way of life, it’s a real privilege to be a flight attendant!

Love,

Amber

*Amber was one of our guest editors from the Netherlands who loves her job as a flight attendant! She’s always on the run searching for the best hotspots in Europe. In her spare time she likes to discover the best hotspots of Utrecht. You can expect an article from her once a month! You can follow her adventures on Instagram or visit her dutch blog on www.amberontdekt.nl!

Always wondered how turbulence works? Check out this video!

Are you a true world traveler?

You may have crossed oceans, seen the desert, rainforest and the inside of every hostel in Australia, but can you call yourself a true world traveler? Women.com have put together a fun test where you need to pick the right country by checking just one single image with a choice of three options. Do you think you can score a 100 procent, we did! (okok, one image was wrong, but that was a difficult one!)

Only a world traveler can name every single country by only one image..

Do the test here!

Love,

Wander-Lust

Looking for travel tips? Find all our tips here!

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

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.

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The Guggenheim Museum

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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! 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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

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Why visiting Istanbul during wintertime is a good idea

I have visited a lot of cities in my life but there was always one on top of my city-bucket-list; Istanbul. Why? It’s the perfect mix between Asia and Europe and has so much to offer, even in winter!

Yes, Istanbul is in fact separated by the Bosporus into European and Asian portions. One of my best friends even told me it’s his favorite city in Europe. Time to check it out. Instead of visiting Istanbul during spring or summer, I booked my ticket for the end of February, hoping the weather would be good so far out on the east side of Europe. But one day before I was about to fly, the news reported that Istanbul was coping with the worst snowstorms in 15 years! Bad luck, but ey, that’s traveling and I got to see snow in Istanbul! (That’s me trying to stay positive) Lucky enough it stopped snowing on the day of my departure so I could fly.

Istanbul birds

Getting Around & Good To Know
Arriving in Istanbul it was a little confusing because I wasn’t aware that you need a tourist visa so… that’s my first tip! A tourist visa will cost you 25 euro’s and you can buy this online
here. Always check with your local whether is safe enough to travel due to political issues in the country. Traveling to Istanbul is declared save again since of July 2018. You can also buy the visa on arrival like I did, but then you need to wait in line and it can take a long time getting through customs so my advice is to buy it beforehand. 

During the winter period, it’s less crowded, cheaper but still beautiful

Getting to my hotel was pretty easy. There are big comfy busses going into town and cost 14 Lira, which is about 5 euro’s. They leave every half hour and take you into the city centre in about 1 hour. For more info, check hereThe nearest busstop from my hotel was Taksim Square. This is a famous square which collides with the endless Istiklal street where you can go shopping or visit a nice Starbucks. You can take the Tünel, this is a cute small tram which runs straight through the shopping street.

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The Tünel in Istiklal Street

Where to Stay
I booked my hotel via Booking.com and because of the low season, I got a very good rate: 120 euro’s for 3 nights! 
The rate included breakfast and the manager was very friendly and even gave his own Travel Card for me to use. (this is a card you can use for public transport) My only warning, if you are staying near a Mosque (and chances are you will), you will hear the people sing though the loudspeakers, also known as ezan, around 5 times a day. If you are not a morning person, double check your location.

Luxury: Raffles Istanbul (nice view, spa, swimming pool, great service)
Mid Range: Bankerhan Hotel or Sub Karakoy (trendy area!)
Budget: Empress Zoe Hotel (Lush garden, great breakfast. Rooms go from €40,-)

I stayed near the Galata tower and picked this area because it’s authentic and you can really taste the Turkish culture here. The tower itself is worth a visit if you want to check out the nice view and take some good pictures. It will cost you 20 lire to get in and there is a restaurant on the top.

Tip: Go in the morning if you want to skip the queues. From the hotel I could walk right across the street to catch the tram which takes you over the bridge and into the westside of Istanbul. Taking the tram over the Bosporus is only a short ride which takes no longer than 10 min from the Galata area.

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Istanbul is full of spices and colors

On this side there are a few big tourist attractions that are just too good to skip:

» The blue Mosque (make sure you bring a scarf to cover your hair. Same thing applies for the Hagia Sofia)
» Hagia Sofia
» The Grand Bazaar (Great for Turkish shopping like handbags, Scarf, Lamps
» The Spice Market (Get ready for some crazy scents and flavors!)

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Inside the blue Mosque

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I loved the Spice Market the most because of all the colours and different tea’s.

Walking through the grand Bazaar Istanbul

Where to Eat & Drink
After a day of walking around, you should definitely take a coffee break or try traditional Salep. My new Turkish addiction. This is a hot milky drink topped off with cinnamon. You can pretty much get it in every Turkish Café. For the best Meze you should try Ciya and At night Istanbul really comes to live. Restaurants stay open late, and it’s rooftop galore with many restaurants and bars that you wouldn’t expect to be hidden away all the way up there.

Here a few of my rooftop favorites:

» 5Kat is a traditional restaurant/bar that has been there forever. You can eat in or outside on the roof terrace. The entrance looks a bit shabby but once you go up, you are rewarded with a wonderful view of the Bosporus. www.5kat.com

» 360 is a great place. For food, drinks and even dancing. Killing view. Reservations are required and leave your sneakers at home. http://www.360istanbul.com/

» Vogue is upscale and also serves sushi for those that are in for a lavish night out. The music isn’t for dancing but for catching up and drinking cocktails. www.voguerestaurant.com

Vogue Istanbul
Vogue Istanbul

» LTERA is a rooftoop restaurant which opens up in the summer. Looking over the river, it has a beautiful view and the food is tasty! http://www.literarestaurant.com/

» Mikla is posh but well worth it if you love to get dressed up one evening and go for that amazing wine & dine experience. It was once voted in the top 50 best restaurants in the world. This a-claimed restaurant also has a rooftop but during the winter it may be closed. www.miklarestaurant.com

Also check out Limonlu Bahçe Beyoglu, this hipster garden is great for amazing coffee, drinks and western style dishes.

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Source  Drinks at Limonlu

A little further along side the Bosporus river you have amazing chique clubs like the Supperclub and Reina. I didn’t manage to go there because of the chilly nights but I will be back to try those out!

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Fishermen trying to get their catch of the day

The Asian District
Most tourists only visit the European part of the city but you should definitely take the time for the Asian part! 
There is the lively Kadikoy where you have markets on different days of the week. Small shops and nice lunch spots make this a super fun day trip. To get there, you take the boat across the bosporus which takes about 30 min. When you are departing Istanbul from Sabiha Cökçen airport, you can also take the bus from there which makes it a shorter ride and you can combine this with a visit to this vibrant part of the city.

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Fresh fish at Kadiköy, the Asian part of Istanbul

Be sure to visit Istanbul when it’s a little warmer but even so, it was magical and my friend was right. It’s great!

Love,

Elke

7 ways to save money whilst traveling

Traveling is great, but it’s even better when you can save money whilst doing it! So what are the best ways to save some cash? We’ve got 7 tips and tricks lined up for you!

1. Find a job overseas 
The possibilities are endless! Find yourself a job abroad and work for a few weeks or months. For example; if you work in Australia as a landscaper for 3 months, 6 days a week, you can earn about 25.000 dollars! That’s more then enough to last you a full year of travel in south east Asia!
These are some jobs that you could look into:

  • Au pair (I worked as an Au-Pair in London)
  • Bartender
  • Hostel worker
  • Landscaper/farmworker
  • Waitress/Waiter
  • Farm worker (Very popular in Australia and New Zealand)
  • Dive instructor (Some certification required)
  • Tour guide
  • Cruise ship worker
  • Casino worker
  • Seasonal worker at ski resorts (if you got a talent, use it!)
  • Yacht Worker

Extra tip » You can also start wwoofing. Meaning, you will work on a farm and get a bed and food. This is great if your passing through.

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Saving money while you sleep.. (pic by David Stegenga)

2. Couchsurfing
It’s free and you meet new people! If you’re a little hesitant about sleeping on someones couch, here’s a success story; I know this couple that did this in Perth, Australia and they ended up in a huge house, had a private room and the owner took them to the most amazing places! The best thing was, that they didn’t need a pay a thing for their stay. (just their food) Check www.couchsurfing.com

Always keep an eye out for those travel deals. This will save you a lot of Money

3. Always look out for those travel deals (because they are there)
Flight deals, Boat deals, Hotel deals. It doesn’t really matter what kind of deal it is, just keep an eye out. Check airline websites and sign yourself up for their loyalty program. Flying to Australia once can give you up to 70.000 miles which you can use to buy other flights!

4. Prepare your own meals
This is something I learned whilst backpacking through Australia. Food can be expensive and if you’re going to sleep in hostels, the’re always kitchens you can use. When I stayed in Sydney, I met a group of backpackers and we always use to cook together. I was lucky to have a chef in the group that prepared the most amazing dishes which cost us about 4 Australian dollars per person. You can also buy a bag of rice which last you for at least 2 weeks and skip the meat and fish for a few days. Veggies aren’t so expensive and you can buy them cheaper on the markets. In Australia you will see BBQ’s alongside the beaches and parks where you can prepare your meals. Just make sure you clean up after yourself. Extra tip » Cut down on the alcohol. Yes, alcohol can cost you more money than food will and let’s be honest, a headache isn’t so nice either.

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Preparing your own meals is healthy and saves you money!

5. Hitchhike
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not something I advise you to do in all countries or as a solo female traveler. BUT, I’ve done it in European countries and it has taken me the extra mile to the village or town I needed to go. Besides that, I’ve listened to the most amazing life stories in the car of strangers and always got to my destination safely. Just use your common sense and get in a car with a couple, families or older people.

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Always trust your intuition when you go hitchhiking

6. Get a discount card
If you’re a student a teacher or under 26 years old? Use it! It’s the best status you can have when you travel. It gives you a lot of discounts on food, activities and more. The same applies for a tourist card. Like you, I don’t really like the “tourist” term but if it opens doors, it’s always a good thing right?
Tourist cards especially help if you are visiting a city. It gives you discounts on museums and big attractions and for public transport. Check the nearest tourist office for more information on how to get one.

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Cities like New York offer great discounts!

7. Housesit
This is probably the best tip if you know you’re going to stay in one place for a while. If you can’t afford a hotel, this is a very good option to look into. It’s simple; just watch someones house while they’re on vacation. You’ll be surprised about how many people do this as it makes their house unattractive for burglars. Check these sites for more info about house sitting:

» House Carers
» Mind My House
» 
The Caretaker Gazette

They say that travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer… I guess it can be true..literally! Have fun saving money!

Love,

Elke

More travel tips here:

Koh Adang Island » The Peaceful Getaway

Koh Adang is the bigger island located right across from the more popular Koh Lipe. We stayed there for 2 nights and here’s everything you need to know.

Koh Adang is located on the southern side of the Andaman sea, near Malaysia. The only way to get there is by longtail boat, which is an adventure to start with. Islands that are a little harder to reach, must be good right! It often means that tourism hasn’t taken over, and you can find some peace and quiet. This is the main reason why we decided to come to Koh Adang for a few days.

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Private beach on Koh Adang

The beach is so amazing with palmtrees and rocks that really makes you feel you are on a private tropical island

getting to Koh Adang Island
Getting to Koh Adang

Adang Island Resort
The only resort on the island is the Adang Island Resort and it’s so nice! It offers guest garden or beach villa’s with nice bathrooms made out of bricks and stone, which gives it a natural feel. All rooms have air-conditioning (trust me, you’ll need it) and patio where you can sit outside. There is one main pool that is overlooking the beach, which you only need to share with your guests. We arrived there on Christmas Eve and the resort was fully booked, but funny enough, it doesn’t feel busy or crowded at all. The beach is so amazing with palmtrees and rocks that really makes you feel you are on a private tropical island.

palmtrees on Koh Adang


Our Deluxe Garden Villa

At the resort you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner and varies from traditional Thai to western style dishes. (try the Spring Rolls, Pad Thai and Papaya Salad omg). Prices are very reasonable and what you would expect of Thailand. On Koh Lipe, prices tend to be more expensive. If you have a coconut addiction like I have, you’ll be pleased to hear that they serve fresh ones at the Adang Island Resort.

food at Adang Island Resort

Pool Adang Island Resort
Chilling by the pool

Things to do
Even though you are on a secluded island, there are a few things you can do besides hanging by the poolside. You can book some of the activities at the resort.

  • Kayaking
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkling (free gear available at the Adang Resort)
  • Walk to the viewing point (1 hour walk)
  • Walk to the waterfall (30 min walk)
  • Day trip to other small islands or Koh Lipe

Waterfall Koh Adang Island

Kayaking Adang Island Resort
Free kayaking is available at the resort


CocoNuts!

Verdict: Koh Adang is well worth a visit if you are planning to visit Koh Lipe. 2 nights is perfect to get you started. For bookings at the Adang Island Resort, visit www.adangresorts.com. Once you’ve made your reservation, you will get a full explanation on how to get there. (there is a pick-up spot and free shuttle from Koh Lipe that runs until 8pm)

Curious about Koh Lipe? Check our Thailand section below!