Backpacking with Children » 5 Reasons To Do It

Do you know what backpacking means? If you type the word into Google you will find about 235.00 results. According to Google, ‘backpacking’ means a lower-cost independent travel, often with a backpack that can be easily carried as the backpacker moves from location to location. Backpacking means freedom, adventure, fun (and sometimes less fun) people, new experiences and little or nothing to fall back on. In short, a journey of discovery! So when you have children, does this all change? As a mother of two, people often me and my partner how we ‘do it’ and they wonder if backpacking with children is even possible. I wasn’t always this flexible about travelling with my children so I understand where this question is coming from. It sounds exciting and adventurous but maybe it’s a bit too much? Here are 5 reasons why backpacking with children is always a good idea.

1. Create Forever Lasting Memories!
The great advantage of backpacking is that you get to travel and therefore you experience more. For children, it is often an impressive experience. They experience new things they have never seen before. We make the lives of our children richer by showing them the world. And best of all, you and your  family will create memories that will never be forgotten.

create-memories
Cheryl’s family Backpacking through Asia

I loved traveling when I was single. I love traveling with my wife. But I love it more now that I have kids. – Santorini Dave 

2. Freedom and Adventure
Backpacking means travelling around from location to location. You don’t need a fixed plan. The whole idea of backpacking is to be flexible. Arrived some place and want to stay longer? Then do! Our advice for backpacking with children is to prepare your trip. For us this means we select a view accommodations at each location (so when we arrive we can make fast decisions). Flights we book in advance, any other transport we arrange at the destination. Choose train & bus above the plane (unless your kids are very young, then travel less locations or lower the distance). Any other preparation is not necessary, you’ll handle it!

3. It’s good for your budget
Feel like exploring the world with your children but you don’t have a large budget? Backpacking is low budget travel. Sometimes you’ll find a hidden gem, sometimes you end up in a little less more pleasant environment. Don’t focus to much on what the accommodation looks like, as long as it’s clean it will be fine (and the kids will be ok). Try to select your next stay with the children. Keep their wishes in mind!

Taking care of their own backpack makes them more independent

4. They learn to be a little bit independent
It starts even before you head off on your little adventure.Give older children in your family some responsibility during traveling. It makes them grow in their self esteem because they contribute to family interests. Taking care of their own backpack makes them more independent and last year our daughter Jessie (then 11 years old) purchased and carried her own backpack. Of course you need to decide as a parent if your child is physically able to handle this. Not every eleven-year-old is the same. Our daughter liked to have her own backpack. Because she’d have to carry her own stuff she packed less! responsible!

5. You realise anything is possible
If you decide to take your children on an adventure, you are taking a leap of faith and yes, it can be scary. But how cool is it when you’ve actually done it! Backpacking is all about surprises and backpacking with children is the 3.0 version of that. A lot of people regret things in life, just because they didn’t do something. Break the rules and be different. Be that person that has no regrets. And look back at it with pride, no matter how the experience was. A fact is, that you did it and that itself, is pretty damn awesome.

Backpacking with children
Traveling by boat, Cheryl has done it all

Tip! Lower your expectations
If you are a hardcore adventurer and backpacker, you might want to lower your expectations a little bit. The truth is, backpacking with children will be a bit different from doing it by yourself. You have more responsibilities and it starts with the items you pack. This time, bring the first aid kit that you would normally leave at home, research the area you’re traveling to and the list goes on. Once you are prepared, your backpacking adventure will be a lot more relaxing.

Tip! The less you bring, the better!
A suitcase with 30 kg of clothes, shoes (and more) sounds interesting until you have to travel from one location to another (and you have to carry that large heavy thing everywhere). From my own experience: this will make you cry. The suitcase is a NO-GO, buy or borrow a backpack.

Tip! Take care of yourself and invest in a backpack!
Find an outdoor shop and try a number of different backpacks. You will see (and experience) that there’s a real difference in types. I can’t advise about which backpack you should buy. Find a store on and try several (including weights!).

Love,

Cheryl

*Cheryl is a mother of 2, with a love for travel. Having 2 kids didn’t stop her from traveling the world and she has become somewhat of an expert when it comes to traveling with children. She will write for Wander-Lust once a month where she will provide you with the best traveling tips for and with children! Find out more on her blog: travellingwithkids.extrememedia.nl

Wander-Lust now has a TRAVELING WITH KIDS section, check it out!

7 tips to make traveling with your kids as relaxed as possible

A Quick Guide To Marrakech

The heat embraces me. I feel the sun burning on my skin and a small sweat drop sneaks away between my shoulder blades. The smell of fresh herbs, oils and food are seducing me to keep on walking towards the centre of the square. I stop, look around, and try to take it all in. Millions of colours, voices and people are surrounding me and stealing my attention. I’m standing in the heart of Marrakech, the structured chaos of Djemaa el Fna.

Marrakech

Marrakech can be overwhelming, breathtaking and confusing. It’s a city with many different faces and possibilities. I’m going to take you on a small (camel) ride to help you choose and plan your travels. These are my must-see tips for a short trip to Marrakech:

Shopping in the souks
I know, not the most original advice, but there’s no way you can miss out on this. The most famous souk of Marrakech is Djemaa el Fna and for a good reason, it’s huge! I got lost a million times even though I was only there for a few days. Not that it’s a bad thing. I found a really nice bag made of an old carpet and got some delicious Moroccan food while finding my way out.Djemaa el Fna is the biggest Souk but also the most touristic. For a more traditional experience I would recommend Marché el Mellah. But be warned if you’re an animal lover, you’re going to see a lot of animals (especially chickens)., and unfortunately, they’re not there for the cosiness.

The blues of Marrakech

Tip » Whilst Marrakech isn’t as conservative as many Arab countries, it is still a Muslim country and you should respect the culture. Leave your mini skirt and tank tops at home or just wear it in the Riad/hotel. Keep it cool on the streets in floaty clothing, it saves you a lot of sunscreen as well.

Jumping back in history at the ruins of El Badi Palace
There is not much left of El Badi Palace but the peace and space it gives you is unique in the centre of Marrakech. The palace took twenty-five year to build and was an excessive display of the best craftsmanship of the Saadian period. You can still see some of the expensive materials they used. Next to the beauty of the ruins, it’s a good place to catch your breath in the middle of the overly crowded city.

Tip » Don’t have enough time to travel to the Sahara? Dry your tears because I got a solution. Within a 20-minute car ride and with a spark of imagination it will feel like you’re in the Sahara while being just outside the city centre of Marrakech. Oke, you’re going to need a lot of imagination and a camel as well. But, when it’s all there you will feel like a true nomad. Note: a camel ride is a lot of fun and great holiday activity but please be aware that you book your trip at certified tour operations. We don’t want the camels to suffer for someone else’s enjoyment.

kameel

Looking for that perfect Instagram spot? Bahia Palace is it.

Feeling like a princess at the Bahia Palace
Looking for that perfect Instagram spot? Think of mosaic floors, enchanting lighting and fairy-tale gardens. Bahia Palace is probably one of the most charming places in Marrakech. I do hope you’re more of a morning person then I am. You’ll have to get up early if you don’t want hundred of tourists taking photos of your own selfie.

bahia-palace_1

Tip » Getting hungry? Le Jardin in the centre of Marrakech is your solution. They serve amazing food, it’s stunningly decorated and, the best part, there are tiny tortoises just walking around. Too cute to be true.

Hippie side of live in Essaouira
If you’re looking for some fresh (sea) air, Essaouira is one of the nearby beaches. It only takes 3 hours by bus, which will cost you about 8 euros. Don’t expect a luxurious, seaside resort. They call it the hippy city of Morocco and that reflects in the low-key way of living in this city. Surfing all day and listening to live reggae music all night is the normal routine.

small-street Marrakech

Tip » You can make some great horse riding trips in Essaouria if you rather wouldn’t jump in the sea. Enjoy the sea, dunes and weather while getting your adrenaline pumped up by the speed of the horse.  Book your trip at Equi Evasion, they treat the horses very well. Howdy ho, cowboy!

riding horses at Essaouira

Marrakech was everything I imagined and nothing like it at the same time. Start your trip open minded. Savour the smell of spices, follow the colours and dive into little alleys and see where it takes you. A lot of Marrakech’s true beauty is hidden behind walls and crowded streets.

And before you go… don’t forget to practice your bargain skills! Prices are more then doubled and shop owners are ready for a tough negotiation.

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.

 

Cheating on Bali with the Nusa’s

Dear Bali,

I love you, and I always will. But… you’ve changed. Just a bit. You grew up and saw more and more people liking you, wanting to see you. Who can blame them, you are amazing. But, it felt as if we had too little ‘just you and me time’. So, I cheated on you with the Nusa’s. Sorry, not sorry.

So what are the Nusa’s?
The Nusa’s are 3 islands just south of Bali. Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan have been on the tourist roadmap for quite some time, but still feel like tropical bounty islands with not too much western interference. Nusa Penida is the biggest island and was only opened up to tourists two years ago. All of them are pure heaven and have their own personalities. All worth exploring for some days, some weeks or forever (I can dream, right?).

Getting there
Most boats sail from Sanur, Bali to Jungut Batu on Nusa Lembongan. But it is also possible to grab a boat to Mushroom Bay (where all the fancier hotels are) or directly to Nusa Penida. Going to Nusa Penida is also possible from Padangbai. The cheapest option is going to the harbour in Sanur and negotiate about the price. If you like to book in advance, don’t worry, there are lots of little tour agencies on Bali that sell tickets as well. We paid 500.000 IDR for a return ticket with the fast boat, including pick up in Canggu and drop off in Ubud. A pretty comfortable deal! Going to Nusa Penida from Lembongan is easy to arrange. Head over to the iconic yellow bridge. Here are a ton of people wanting to bring you. Around 50.000 IDR is a normal price, be sure to haggle if they are aiming high.

Nusa's

surfers won’t be disappointed here

Lembongan and Ceningan chillings
Two small beauties, connected by a picture perfect yellow hanging bridge, dotted with bumpy roads, deep blue waters and sky-high waves. With surfbreaks named ‘playgrounds’ and ‘shipwreck’ surfers won’t be disappointed here. Happier under the surface? Gear up in your wetsuit to spend some time with the massive manta-rays that cruise the shores of nearby Nusa Penida. Sounds scary, swimming with creatures that are much bigger than you? It’s not! They are so gracious and elegant. Oh and they only eat plankton. Don’t underestimate the currents here though. Dive trips are easily arranged with one of the many dive shops on Lembongan. French Kiss Divers recently opened a shop here and is full of brand new gear and offers very reasonable prices. As they say ‘the more depth, the more pleasure’. 😉

Diving in Nusa
Diving with rays is a highlight!

If all of the above sounds like too much work, don’t worry for a second. Lounging on a massive Fatboy while sipping a healthy smoothie, gazing at the ocean, is just as easy. The best place to do so is definitely Ginger & Jamu on Jungut Batu beach. Caring about the environment, they don’t do plastic. Paper straws, cotton napkins and glass water bottles. Oh right and amazing smoothies, sandwiches, smoothie-bowls and salads. Combined with the yoga school above the cafe this place oozes the ultimate zen and friendly vibe. I admit, I’ve spend days full of relaxing, drinking, eating and plunging in to the sea for some refreshment at Ginger & Jamu.

Another amazing spot is Sea breeze Ceningan. Their catchy latino tunes, hammocks and perfect vanilla ice coffees cannot do anything else but make you happy. Overlooking the azure seaweed-farms with your toes in the sand, beach life as it should be. Also, their wifi is really good, thus digital nomad proof!

For dinner the choices are endless.

Sea breeze Ceningan
Sea breeze Ceningan 

For dinner the choices are endless. There are a ton of nice warungs for local dishes. Not so local are the nanchos and burritos at Ginger Moon (whats in a name), but they cannot be missed! Getting around Lembongan and Ceningan is best done by motorbike. The roads are generally okay and even the bumpy ones are do-able. Nice places to scooter to include dream beach, devil’s tears, mahana point and the blue lagoon.

Island friendly prices
Now, are these two islands going to break your wallet? Hell no! There are tons of affordable homestays. Your own little bungalow -some even with a swimming pool and breakfast- usually comes with a price tag of between 13 and 20 euro a night. Although more luxurious places are also widely available. I highly recommend Jiva Bungalows: basic but clean bungalows, super sweet people and a nice breakfast included!

Adventurous Penida
Now if you are up for a little less relaxing and a bit more adventure, Nusa Penida is the perfect pick. It’s possible to do day trips from Lembongan, but staying on the island for a few days is definitely better. Penida is much more quiet, less developed and wilder then little sisters Lembongan and Ceningan. That’s great for adventure, but also a bit more dangerous. They are working on the roads, but a lot of them are still treacherous. Going for a daytrip? Then seriously consider hiring a car with a driver as the highlights are further apart and driving hastily really isn’t a good idea. Still rather have a scooter to drive around yourself? Then make sure to check it before renting. Good brakes are a must on the steep and rocky roads that are home to Penida! As this island isn’t open to tourists for that long, it’s not filled with restaurants and bars yet. But every village has a couple of gems. Whatever you do, don’t miss breakfast/brunch/lunch at Penida Espresso. The smells from their kitchen are heaven and the rock butter smoothie bowl is to die for.

Penida Espresso
Penida Espresso

Penida, Nusa. Broken Beach
Broken Beach, Penida

Penida beauties
The island has an amazing coastline, high cliffs, hidden beaches and views that go on forever. Take a day to drive the beautiful road to Atuh beach, take the steep stairs down and chill on one of the loungers to watch the change of the tide.

Nusa's, Indonesia

Another great place is broken beach. The name is a bit confusing as there is absolutely no beach but it’s a sight to behold. Next to broken beach is Angels Billabong. It seems as if the pictures you find online are massively photoshopped and don’t depict the real thing. I dare to say Angels Billabong was the disappointment of my trip through Asia so far. But hey, go see for yourself! The ultimate highlight of Nusa Penida has got to be Kelingking beach. A massive cliff looking down onto the purest of beaches with the bluest of waters. It’s impossible to describe this beauty in words. There is a way down to that perfect beach, but it is quite dangerous so be careful!

Crystal clear
Of course you can also relax at Nusa Penida. Crystal Bay is your bae! Although it has some real steep hills, the road to Crystal is perfect and very Instagram worthy, lined with picture perfect palm trees. You can rent two sun-beds and an umbrella to protect you from the sun for just 50.000 IDR a day. The little warung at the western end of the beach makes you a great mie goreng! Don’t forget your snorkeling gear, the underwater life really is crystal clear and includes many curious, colorful fishes and even the occasional turtle. Do check the current as it can be strong here! End your day with a cocktail or a beer at Penida Colada while looking at the Agung volcano, just across the sea on Bali. Life is pretty damn perfect here.

Crystel Bay Beach, nusa's
The tropical Cystel Bay Beach

Now, don’t skip Bali just yet. But consider spending some time with the Nusa’s to fill up one some peace, quiet and happiness. Maybe I see you there as I might never leave again.

Life is better at the beach,

Jill

*Our guest editor Jill is currently traveling through Asia and will monthly update us about her Asian adventures. 

These are the Travel Trends for 2018

Trends. You either love them or you couldn’t care less about them. One thing is for sure, you are going to hear about these “trends” sooner or later. The same applies to the travel industry. Every year, we see a shift and it has a lot to do with our changing behaviour. The way we travel is important for travel agencies and brands, so that they can play into this and give the “consumer” want he or she wants. Booking.com recently researched 19.000 people on their platform to find out what the travel needs and trends are for the coming year. We had a look and picked the travel trends for 2018, that stood out in the report.

1. Experiences are more important
Booking.com found out that 4of their travelers are planning to travel to a destination that is written on their bucket list. The majority of these, want to cross one or more destinations from their list in the coming year. People attach more value to experiences rather than material matters, giving them more opportunity to make unforgettable trips in 2018.

travel trends of 2018

2. Going back to the past
In addition to new experiences, 2018 also marks the past. People want to experience their most precious childhood memories and return to destinations that have always remained in the heart. A third of all travelers 34% are considering returning to a place where they went as a kid in order to see the destination from a new perspective. The popularity of these nostalgic vacations comes from the sense of happiness that calls on these places. Travelers enjoy beautiful and precious memories of these family vacations. Funny enough, the millennials are the most sentimental. For example, 44 procent of 18- to 34-year-olds want to return to a favorite family destination from their childhood. 

3. Travel with friends
2018 will become THE year of traveling with friends. To the question; of what kind of traveler would you like to travel in 2018, answered “with a group of friends”. In 2018, it’s no longer just about the destination, but also about the people we create beautiful memories with. A vacation with friends is the ultimate opportunity to spend more time with them! A holiday with friends also has financial benefits: four out of ten participants indicate that they can stay in a lodging with friends, something they could not afford alone during a holiday.

Travel trends of 2018

4. Wellness & healthy travel
This is not a new trend but it’s a trend that will continue thoughout 2018. Compared to 2017, almost twice as many people plan to travel for health and wellness (one in ten in 2017 vs. almost one in five in 2018!). 

5. Travel like a local
We have been traveling like this since we can remember but more people are now loving this way of traveling. If you learn from a local, you see a destination in the purest form. Instead of staying in a large hotel, people also try to stay at a guesthouse where they are in close contact with their host. A quarter of travelers say it’s important to find a host that has local knowledge and can share tips about nice restaurants and spots. At the same time, a host should be available, but not in a way that feels too invading.

locals-only

What do we think?
If we look at our own opinion when it comes to the travel trends for 2018, we think that 2 others should be added to the list. Sustainable Travel and Traveling for a Cause. Over the the last couple of years we’ve seen many travel brands evolving and growing because they focus on sustainability, local produce or good causes. Travelers love collection good karma points and want to come back home with a satisfactory feeling. The same applies to us. It’s not just about those Instagram photo’s by the pool. Traveling is also about learning gaining a greater understanding of what is going on in the world and making it a better place.

Do you think something else deserves a mention in the travel trends list of 2018? Comment below!

Love,

Elke

More travel tips? Check them all in our Travel Tips segment!

City trip to Dublin

When you think of a new city trip destination, Dublin may not come to your mind. Which is a shame, because the city is amazing and very cosy. The capital of Ireland has an interesting and grim history, but the Irish people are very welcoming and lovely. The city is not that big, but there are lots of nice things to do in and around the city.

Walk and cycle through the city
First of all, since the city is not that big, everywhere you go is walkable. But if you want to cycle like Dutch people do best, then take a Dublin city bike to cross around the city. A ticket for three days is only 5 euros, so it’s very affordable. But mind you, the Irish drive on the left side of the road just like in Great-Britain!

the-river-liffey, Dublin
The river Liffey, Dublin

Look everywhere for nice places to eat
Dublin is an ideal place if you want have a bite or drink. At every corner you can find a nice place to sit and eat nice food for affordable prices. Brasserie Sisty6 is a really nice place if you want to taste one of the best truffle pasta’s in town for only 10 euros. I would also recommend the 100{8b669be72a7f340f9ef2d6d852585cd40ddf0e79ccf763f3ea93c1234c3d888b} Irish burger there. But you can find literally anything to eat in the city, just walk around and go to a place that speaks to you.

Food in Dublin

Visit a (free) museum
A really nice thing about Dublin is that many of their museums are for free. The Museum of Decorative Arts and History, the National Gallery and the National Museum of Modern Art are freely accessible and very interesting. When the weather is not that great you should definitely visit one of these three museum for some culture. Also check out the library of the Trinity college, stunning!

Library, Dublin
The library of the Trinity college

Even if you don’t like beer, this place is worth visiting!

Visit the Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse is a very touristic place but definitely a must-visit in the city. You might not be familiar with the dark brown beer, but it is quite famous in Ireland and abroad. If you want to know how the process of making Guinness beer goes, this is the place where you can learn everything about it. The history behind the beer is also explained in various ways and the whole tour in the Storehouse is interactive with a cinema, iPads, television screens and more. You can join a tasting where you can drink a tiny beer and at the end of the tour you can drink a big pint of Guinness with a panorama view over the entire city. Even if you don’t like beer, this place is worth visiting!

Take a bus tour through the Irish nature
Ireland has a beautiful landscape that is worth discovering. Escape the busy city and go on a bus tour to either County Wicklow or the Cliffs of Moher. I’ve experienced the tour to County Wicklow and I loved it. You’ll go on a tour through the beautiful nature and you’ll visit the Guinness lake in the Wicklow Mountains National park. This lake is just as black as the Guinness beer, hence the name. You will also go to the graveyard in Glencree and you can take many Instagram worthy pictures and the famous PS I Love You bridge.

guinness-lake, Dublin
Guiness Lake, Dublin

The Cliffs of Moher tour is really cool because you will visit the cliffs at the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a breath-taking view. You will also visit the Medieval city Galway where Ed Sheeran filmed his whole videoclip for the song “Galway Girl.” There are many other tours to choose from, but these two are really amazing. The weather might not be great every day in Ireland, so make sure you pick the right day with (semi)-good weather.

Enough reason to visit Dublin and it’s surroundings!

Love,

Merel

*Merel is one of our guest editors from Utrecht who describes herself as a daydreaming student who has wanderlust ever since she travelled to Jamaica for three months. She can’t wait to travel the whole wide world after she finishes her bachelor. Check her out on Instagram

The many faces of Central and Southern Vietnam

Vietnam is just one country, but it sure feels as many different ones. If you are heading out to this Asian pearl, the north part should be (in my opinion) your main priority. I still long for those emerald karst mountains. However, if you have a bit more travel time, central and southern Vietnam are parts of Vietnam that cannot not be overlooked. Well, most parts of them anyway.

Ancient emperors in Hue
Hue, the capital of the Nguyen emperors, really is the middle of Vietnam. It is a city most people only pass for a day while on their way to Danang or Hoi An. But it is worth it to linger for a few days in this small, cozy city. The main reason is the Citadel. A walled city within the city, showcasing how the emperors of old days lived. It’s impressive and pretty big, you can easily get lost there for half a day. If you can stand the burning sun, going during mid-day will give you the most alone time with the temples. The ancient city is not the only thing that has been abandoned. A half an hour motorbike ride takes you to an empty amusement park. Water slides and swimming pools that havent heard a child’s laughter for ages, now overgrown with trees and bushes. A bit creepy i might add. Its also possible to do a tour to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone), an area that played a big part in the Vietnam war (or American war, as the Viets call it). Next to sightseeing, Hue offers lots of nice little cafe’s, eateries and rooftop bars for some lounging around. A great little budget hotel is Glenda guesthouse, friendly people, great location and a nice breakfast included!

Vietnam

Feeling at home in Hoi An
An absolute must in Vietnam is taking a tour on the back of a motorcycle with an easy rider. These drivers take you from one place to another, while you enjoy the road and the scenery (perfect if navigating yourself through the Vietnam traffic chaos really isn’t your thing). There are lots of options to do these tours, but the route from Hue to Hoi An is a famous one. The reason? The Hai Van Pass (a.k.a top gear mountain since Jeremy Clarkson cruised this road for his tv show). Winding roads up and down the mountain, combined with stunning vista’s of the sea and the mountains. There is no camera that has the ability to capture these pretty pictures. Go see for yourself!

img_4791

On the way to Hoi An you’ll pass Danang. If you are looking for anonymous 5 star resorts, lots of Russian tourists and a beach, this is the place to be. Otherwise, skip this boring city and spend your time in Hoi An. And time is what you need in this cute little town. Yes, there are tons of tourists here, but that doesn’t dull the little lights coming from the lampions that hover above the narrow streets. There is lot’s to look at in Hoi An and even more to buy. Get your tailor made clothes for a dime (i recommend Maya) and pretty leather bags for even less. Have dinner at the waterfront and sip on a brightly colored smoothie while you watch all the people passing by. Most hotels won’t be in the ancient city centre so opt for one that includes (free) bicycles. It’s the perfect way to explore ánd to head to An Bang beach for some time in the sand and water. Lots of beach bars offer free loungers if you take lunch with them, a fair deal! The Hoi An Rose Garden Hotel is in between the city and the beach and offers a nice swimming pool to cool down after a day of strolling/biking around. A word of advise: don’t go with one of those snorkling trips to the Cham Islands. The underwater scenery is meh and much worse: you’ll be surrounded by tourists in life jackets who are stepping on (and thus damaging) the corals. The trip you should take is to My Son. These ruins will take your breath away.

Adventurous Dalat
Further down the coast lies Nha Trang. The beaches are nice, but that is about it. This town has been attacked by many tourists. If beach is what you want, just stick around Hoi An a little longer. If adventure is what you seek, head to Dalat. This is one unique city, as it lies up in the mountains and carries a much cooler climate. There are waterfalls, there is wine and a lot of adventure sports. The true adrenaline junkies have to sign up for canyoning. Abseiling from waterfalls, sliding through rock pools and jumping of a 11 meter cliff (if you dare). After a day like this, you’ll be pumped for the rest of your travels. You can book a tour at Vietchallenge.com

Lie down in Mui Ne
In need of some chill time now? On the southern coast between Dalat and Ho Chi Minh City, quiet Mui Ne will give you just that. It has a beach which is okay and some nice restaurants. Hire a beach lounger at coco beach resort and you’ll find relaxing here is pretty easy (they have some very nice massages there too). If you are an avid wind or kite surfer, Mui Ne offers it all. But be aware, the prices for lessons and gear hire are extremely high. There are many places to spend the night in Mui Ne, but the Xin chao hotel offers the best bang for your buck. Spacious rooms, a pool table ánd a refreshing swimming pool. Near Mui Ne are the white sand dunes. All little piece of desert in Vietnam. Pretty cool to run up and down those sand mountains. Lots of excursions to these dunes are organised in Mui Ne. However, most of them are package deals, also tacking you to other (tourist trap) sights. Oh and they mostly forget to mention that you have to pay an extra fee when you want to go up the dunes. So be extra aware on what you book and if it is what you are looking for.

Central and Soutern Vietnam
Mui Ne

Smoggy Ho Chi Minh City
You either love it or hate it, the second big city of Vietnam is Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a smoggy and crowded metropole, with lots of bars, shoppingmalls and street food. Try to find a local or a tour that takes you out of the centre to experience true Vietnam city life. A city full of skyscrapers asks for a drink in a rooftop bar. The best one: the View rooftop bar. It is not the highest one, but you’ll find a great informal vibe and an amazing cocktail list.

theviewrooftopbar Cnetral and Southern Vietnam
The View Rooftop Bar Source

Ho Chi Minh City also is the gateway to the Mekong Delta. Multiple or one-day tours are on offer throughout the city (or just take a bus and organize everything by yourself). If you take a one-day tour its worth it to spend a bit more money. That will get you smaller groups and more time to experience life in the river delta. Little boats will guide you on small canals through fields. Learn how to make coconut candy and down a fermented-snake-shot. It all is a bit touristy, but still a lot of fun.

The ‘once was’ paradise: Phu Quoc
Surely, before the tourist boom hit Vietnam, the Southern island of Phu Quoc was a real beauty. But the white sandy beaches now are full of rubbish and troubled by fumes from all the boats. But there are still a few nice places left to end your Vietnam trip in pure relaxation. Ong Lang Beach is quite far from the nearest town and therefore very peaceful. The beach here is a bit rough, but clean. Phu Quoc Dragon Resort & Spa will give you all you need for ultimate relaxation (at very reasonable rates). While you’re in the area, grab a chicken sandwich at Sakura restaurant. Not a very Vietnamese lunch, but you’ll be craving this sandwich for weeks afterwards! And if you are on the island in the dry season, hop on a boat for some underwater life. Be aware that the diving schools offer snorkel tours for a slightly higher price than regular tour operators, but that is probably worth it. The regular tours are, again, full of Tourists (you know who) who have no respect for the aquatic life.

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Still lovely; Phu Quoc Dragon Resort & Spa Source

Central and Southern Vietnam has some flaws, but most definitely it’s beauty. There is only one way to find out if you love it or not: go see for yourself.

Love,

Jill

Jill is currently traveling through Vietnam and Thailand and will monthly update us about her Asian adventures

5 x Travel YouTube Channels You Should Subscribe To

YouTube is freakin’ booming and is taking over laptops and screens around the world to inspire young and older generations. Travelers are not just looking on websites anymore, but search for information by checking inspirational video’s from travel vloggers on YouTube. We selected 5 Travel YouTube Channels (and a nice bonus!) for you to subscribe to.

1. Brooke Saward – World of Wanderlust

This Australian cutie is an inspiration for many young women who have a dream. Brooke packed her bags and left everything behind to travel the world. While she did, she started blogging about it and documented everything. Before she even realized it, she became one of the biggest travel bloggers in the world. She started her YouTube Channel a little while after her blogging succes and she gives you tips, travel hacks, personal experiences and her sweet but funny personality really makes you fall in love with this girl. She is taking things a bit slower nowadays as she realized, life is not just about large numbers and being the best in everything. She is more selective about her press trips and wants to be at home more where she started her own bakery recently. https://www.youtube.com/user/brookehaute

World of Wanderlust Travel YouTube Channels

2. Angie Lal – Travel In Her Shoes

She’s a Polish born, Australian educated, Los Angeles based adventure traveler, writer, blogger and photographer. Her Instagram account is already to die for and she decided to focus more on YouTube since a couple of months and things are going fast! Be inspired by the amazing locations she visits and her beautiful sense of style. This girl will take you around the world! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8_L-xSXL3GO2k-FMqmXeZw

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3. VagaBrothers

We met these crazy bro’s at the TBEX conference in Sweden last year where they gave a seminar about YouTube. They are very savvy with anything to do with video and montage (award winning actually!). They are on a mission to explore the planet by connecting with other young people and inspiring viewers to do the same. And they have! Besides being cute, they are pretty funny too! Check out their cool video’s here: https://www.youtube.com/user/vagabrothers/featured

4. FunForLouis – Louis

He is the biggest travel YouTuber in the world right now and well deserved! He started his channel 6 years ago and gained his subscribers before YouTube was a hype like it’s nowadays. Once he grew an audience, he could focus more on content and adventure. Yes, adventure is Louis middle name! Watch video’s how he’s flying a tiny plane, joining coffee ceremonies, visiting the Hobbit house in New Zealand or riding on the roof of a car. He’s done it all and he is taking you along with the ride. Louis is not the guy who started his YouTube Channel for the views, no he really loves to travel and has stayed humble throughout this big adventure. https://www.youtube.com/user/FunForLouis/featured

5. Hey Nadine – Nadine Sykora

She’s positive, funny, quirky and successful. This is Nadine Sykora. She is posting 2 video’s per week (how on earth does she do it??) and has a lot of travel tips and advice. She does the traditional Q&A’s but it’s never boring. Besides travel she also creates beauty, fashion and comedy video’s. Check her out here: https://www.youtube.com/user/nayders07

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Bonus: Wander-Lust

Eh well, we need to give ourselves a little self promotion right? 😉 We are waaay behind on YouTube but this will change shortly! We will start to post new video’s soon where we will continue to take you along on our adventures and we are also planning on sharing some inside travel tips. We have to admit that we are not really too keen about vlogging because we can’t imagine that you will find our lives interesting enough that we feel the need to share our every move. BUT, please let us know what you would like to see and we will brainstorm about it. And eh..you can start helping us by subscribing to our YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfNCgBBEAs7_ClfgZm1LQNA

Love,

Wander-Lust

Check out our favorite Travel Instagram accounts here!

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6 Reasons To Still Love Thailand

Thailand. Once a tropical and far away destination but nowadays, more than ever, a super touristic country where real adventure and authenticity seem to be disappearing and mass tourism seems to be taking over. Some travelers don’t even bother going to Thailand any more, but for me, even after three times, it is still one of my favorite Southeast Asian countries. Why? I’ll give you 6 reasons why to still love Thailand.

1. The People.
Thailand is known as the land of the smile and even though ginormous amounts of tourists have found their way to the land once known as Siam, the Thai people still remain friendly. Of course you have the general exceptions such as the merchants on Khao San Road who don’t even let you try something before buying it, but the (big!) majority of Thai people I met remain respectful, friendly, humble and do everything with a big smile.

Bangkok, love Thailand
Bangkok

2. The Food.
Okay, this one is a SUPER big cliché, but so true! I tried fresh Spring Rolls in Vietnam, ate Khmer Amok in Cambodia and love a portion of Indonesian Gado Gado, but, let’s be honest, nothing beats a Pad Thai. Thai food is so versatile, so full of flavor and even as a vegetarian you are treated to mouthwatering dishes day after day after day. And yes, food is definitely a reason for me to go to a country and that’s why I love Thailand 😉

3. The convenience.
Traveling around Thailand is easy. Did I say easy? It is super easy! Every hostel has a travel desk and in every town you’ll find heaps of travel agencies. Whether you take the bus, boat, minivan and TukTuk, everything is well planned out and you’ll always arrive on your destination. Flying is sometimes even cheaper than the train or bus (you can, for instance, fly from Bangkok to Krabi for 20 Euros) and vehicles like minivans are often of good quality. Believe me, if you’ve seen what I traveled with in countries like Cambodia you’ll never complain about a Thai minivan again…

Love Thailand
Traveling through Thailand by boat

4. The Islands.
There are so many islands in Thailand that you could easily stay for 2 months, and there is something for everyone. If you like to go partying you go to Koh Phi Phi or Koh Phangan, if you want to relax I’d recommend Koh Lanta (check our tips on Koh Lanta), if you want to get your PADI or want to go snorkeling then Koh Tao is the place to be and if you’re looking for something different then Koh Chang is where you should set sail to. And what all the islands have in common: they are beautiful.

Krabi, Love Thailand

5. The Temples.
What can I say? I love temples, and Thailand has many of them. Some people say that “after you’ve seen one temple you’ve seen them all” but I strongly disagree, especially in Thailand. In Bangkok you can’t miss the reclining Buddha and Wat Arun, whereas in Chiang Mai Doi Suthep is a definite must-go-to. But also walking into the smaller, less well-known temples that aren’t mentioned in travel guides like the lonely planet are worth wandering around.

6. The Sunsets
Yes, there are pretty sunsets everywhere, but the last few I saw during my most recent visit to Thailand were out of this world. Whether you’re in a busy metropole like Bangkok or chilling on an island, Mother Nature will treat you to some of her best sunsets ever. Order a cold Chang, get comfortable and watch the day turn into night.

Sunsets in Krabi Thailand,
Sunsets like no other

I could go on about the weather, the parties, the adventure, how the Thai people speak English and so on but I think I made my point about why I love Thailand: this country is still more than worth visiting. Enjoy! 

Love,

Evelien

*Evelien is one of our guest bloggers who currently travels and lives in Australia. Follow her on Instagram (@eefexplores) or check out her website!

The adventurous South Island of New Zealand

As the ultimate New Zealand ambassador (seriously, if the immigration laws weren’t so impossible, I would already live there) I would highly recommend to visit every part of this beautiful country. But I also know that you need at least two months to fully explore every corner. Reality is that a lot of (short-term) travelers have to be selective on where to go and pick the South-Island of New Zealand as their go-to destination. With reason, it’s a dream to drive the long roads, stare at the ridiculously gorgeous and ever-changing scenery, wander through the cozy towns and have fun with the hilarious, straightforward locals. Next to all this beauty, there are also a ton of opportunities to have some adventure. I’ll let you in on some of the ones I experienced.

Oh and by the way, if you are going to travel the whole country (you lucky bastard), make sure to check out our insights on the Stunning North Island as well!

The North Island of New Zealand
The North Island of New Zealand

Pick Picton
Easily overlooked by many, little port town Picton (where the ferry from the North Island arrives) is worth to stay for a few days. Where the town is small, the nature is grand! the maze of the Marlborough Sounds with it’s valley’s, peaks, beaches, birds and crystal clear waters just scream for some exploring. Be prepared to feel really small when walking (pieces of) the Queen Charlotte trail. If you are not a hiker, there are also plenty of kayak and bike tours, as long or short as you like. Also, if you’re into sailing, make sure to ask around in town if the local sailing club still has training nights and if you are allowed to join. It’s what we did and it resulted in an epic afternoon of high speed sailing on an amazing sailboat, sarcastic jokes and home-brewed rum by the crew included. You can find more info about Picton here: www.newzealand.com/nieuw-zeeland/picton/

The seals of Abel Tasman
Of course you are going to visit Abel Tasman National Park. Golden beaches, lush nature, secret waterfalls, they have it all here. Whatever you have planned for this park, make sure to add some kayaking even if it is just for a few hours. It’s paddling on open sea and therefore pretty damn exhausting, but you’ll forget about that when you look around you. The occasional seal will lazily float by your canoe, enjoying the sun as much as you’ll do. I did a two day tour, with one day of kayaking to a campsite (the tour agencies will provide you with a fully stocked kayak, tent included) and walking back to following day. This really was a magical two days, bonfires included!


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Kayaking at Abel Tasman National Park

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Roadtrip
If you have been doubting whether to hire a car to get around or just take the easy way and buy a buss pass: hire a car!! This coming from me (the most scared car driver alive) says something. The South Island offers not so many roads, and they are also not that busy. But men, they are breathtaking. And at some parts also quite adventurous, with mountain passes, hairpin bends, cliffs, no gas stations for miles and of course driving on the left side. Having your own car gives you the opportunity to really wander off the main roads, stop to gaze at your surroundings wherever and whenever you want, travel at your own pace. Oh and perhaps getting chased by a herd of cows and losing some hubcaps in the process, like happend to us. But hey, that’s a story for another time. Trust me, take the car. Car rental Picton (you can rent the car her, and drop it off in several other cities, Christchurch for instance): https://www.omegarentalcars.com/car-rental-picton/

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Adventure capital of the world
The true thrill seekers will know this: Queenstown is the place to be if you are looking for adventure (and for a scandalous pub-crawl). This town does, In my honest opinion, no real justice to the rest of the country since it pulls in a lot of tourists who just want to get hammered. But hey, it’s good fun for a few days and it still looks magnificent. Also it’s the best place to book a trip to Milford Sound, a mystical fjord which seems to come straight out of a movie (remember that movie with elves, a ring and some bad orcs 😉 ). But back to the adrenaline, this town will get you pumped with it. From jet boating to luging to bungeejumping, make sure to save some of your money to engage in at least one of the adventures on offer. If you have some real guts, do the bungeejumping. You have multiple bungee sites to choose from. The Nevis bungee let’s you fall ‘ only’ 180 meters, The Ledge offers cool views on Queenstown (but not sure if you’ll be aware of that if you are about to make a free fall with nothing but a rope around your ankles). I did the Kawarau Bridge jump, since this is the first commercial bungee site in the world and my inner nostalgia bubbled up because of this. Imagine jumping of an old bridge, in the middle of a gorge, dipping into turquoise water. And of course being pulled back by that gigantic elastic. I was scared, I screamed, I was terrified. And I would do it again any day.

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Queenstown

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It’s the perfect place for thrillseekers

Stewart Island
Most people know about the North and the South Island, but forget the third island of New Zealand: Stewart Island. I’ll admit, it will steal some days of your travels to get there, but if you have the time and you’re looking for nature in it’s purest form, go! While on the island, we had the privilege to actually spot a real life Kiwi (the bird which functions as New Zealand’s national symbol). They only live in the wild on Stewart Island and are hardly seen. We just happened to trip over one while we are arguing about the scary and dark forest path we were taking. Its all possible here. Same goes for the little penguins that show up at dawn in the harbor. Getting to Stewart Island is possible by ferry boat. But if it has always been your dream do go cage diving with great white sharks, you can also book a (really expensive) tour which offers you the cage as well as the transfer to the island. It’s what we did because my sister had this crazy desire to face the shark of death. Be careful when booking a trip like this, my sister actually ended up not seeing the shark in the water at all (while I had a pretty clear sight of the monster when I was just lounging on the deck). But hey, if it’s your dream..

Meet a sea lion
Another place that a lot of people skip is student town Dunedin. Which is a shame, since they have a chocolate factory! Jokes aside, it’s a very laid-back city, home to the worlds steepest residential street of the world. More importantly, it’ s also home to the Otago peninsula, where you can drive around and spot marine wildlife. Think penguins, albatrosses, seals and sea lions. We encountered two sea lions of which one was surrounding a bird watching hut to ensure that the people in there, would stay in there. The other sea lion (which we named Claude) was actually chasing us. Quite the adventure, but I guess that’s what the South Island of New Zealand is all about.

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Claude chasing us!

This is only a small list of everything you can do on this amazing island. there is whale-watching in Kaikoura, climbing Franz Josef glacier, Mount Cook. spotting dolphins in Greymouth, hiking around Lake Wanaka, the TranzAlpine train ride, Christchurch, Akaroa, and so so so much more. Go there, and make me jealous.

Love,

Jill

*Jill is one of our guest bloggers living in Amsterdam (@jillgwendolyn) where she works as a content manager for a digital agency. She’s Crazy about traveling and has spend her studies in New Zealand . You can read a new article from Jill in every 3rd week of the month!

How to avoid the crowds at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is undoubtedly Cambodia’s biggest tourist attraction. And this is no surprise since Angkor Wat is the biggest religious monument in the world which dates back to the early twelfth century. These days almost 5 million tourists yearly make their way over to Cambodia to wander around the temples of Angkor themselves, making it a very popular but very busy place to visit. You better think again if you ever dream of having these temples all to yourself, but there are a few tricks to avoid the big crowds and wander around in peace…

1. Watch the sunrise and leave a little early
Watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat is a definite must-do when you’re visiting these temples. Not only is it a truly magical experience when a new day presents itself by rising up against the temples, but it is also a great way to arrive at the temples early. If you want to have a good spot without hundreds of iPad and Selfiestick waving Chinese tourists in front of you, walk right instead of going straight ahead at the famous ‘sunrise temple spot’. You won’t be right in front of the temples, but you will share the view with just a dozen of other tourists. When the sun is up and you captured enough Instagram-worthy shots, head back to your Tuk Tuk driver before everybody else does. Doing this you’ll arrive at the other temples as one of the first, having the temples (almost) all to yourself 🙂

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

2. The further away, the better!
Ask your Tuk Tuk driver to bring you to the popular temples that are further away first. Many Tuk Tuk’s and tour buses follow a certain route, creating the perfect opportunity for you to do the exact opposite thing 🙂 Also, if you see tons of big tour buses standing outside of a temple, ask your Tuk Tuk driver to take you to another temple which appears to be less crowded first.

no crowds at ankor-wat

3. Go back at the end of the day
Wandering around the temples of Angkor is extremely beautiful, but also extremely tiring and HOT! If you decided to watch the sunrise you will probably feel very tired around 12pm, making you want to go home and take a nap during the hottest hours of the day. If you buy a one-day-pass this pass is valid for a whole day, so you can come back to the temples in the late afternoon, when most of the crowds already have disappeared. Make sure you don’t go too late as Angkor Wat closes at 6pm.

Angkor Wat takes you back in time

I hope the three tips above will help you explore this ancient Kingdom in peace and quiet. Enjoy 🙂

Love,

Evelien

*Evelien is one of our guest bloggers who currently travels and lives in Australia. Follow her on Instagram (@eefexplores) or check out her website!

Did you know Cambodia is one of the world’s cheapest countries to live in? Check which countries made it to the top 5!

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