When I first met Ellen we immediately hit it off, so to speak. Ellen is a Dutch regional development consultant working and living in Tirana, the capital of Albania. We had coffee together, talked about business and how to market. I agreed on helping with her husband’s hostel in Durrës no idea that it was a perfect practice in dealing with boredom. (more…)
Have you ever considered working while traveling? Yes, then this post gives you more insights on how to combine the two. Of course you can have a job or work as a freelancer which doesn’t give you the opportunity for working while traveling. In that case, you need to save money and free days to travel. That’s fine. In this blog post I will explain what you can do if you want to work location independent.
What can you do?
The opportunities for working while traveling were never that many since the introduction of internet. Which doesn’t mean you have to work on the internet. Remote jobs can also include working as a freelance secretary (also known as virtual assistant), accountant/bookkeeper, coach, teacher, painter, copywriter, house or pet sitter. You name it. There are so many ways to make money while traveling.
But if you are interested in doing some online business, you can consider writing an e-book, making an online course (e.g. language course), blogging/vlogging, investing in other companies or real estate, online gaming, web designer or web developer. I know people who actually make a lot of money with online masterclasses. You can ask good money if you choose a niche market.
Even working as an employee you have several possibilities. Just ask you manager about it. Don’t assume it is not possible. Unless you are a receptionist or a sales rep who needs to visit clients locally there are more options than you think. And maybe nobody every asked your boss but he is willing to investigate what’s possible. If you are a talented and valueable asset to your company you can at least give them something to think about.
As mentioned above, you can sell yourself as a house and pet sitter. But then you have to have a special trait to get paid. In most cases people won’t be paying you anything but return the favour by letting you stay in their house for free. There are many international organisations you can use to find places you would like to travel to.
You can also consider website as Workaway where you can work in exchange for bed and bread. There are possibilities all over the world. I started my nomad life as a workawayer on a huskyfarm in northern Finland. And later on, living in Norway, I was a Workaway host myself.
This is how I do it
I help people getting the lifestyle they want. That’s why I always search for places where I can meet a lot of people. I like to stay in big cities and sleep in hostels. You will find fellow travelers who inspire you with their stories and experiences. You also find other people that maybe want to have the lifestyle that you have but have some sort of internal conflict or reason why it’s not for them.
I am a small-scale web designer. I love helping people growing their business using their website. As a marketing tool. Why small-scale? Because I want a clear focus on what I do. For me that means I can’t take many clients.
Working while traveling
It all comes down to a few things:
- Are you creative enough?
- Does the work involve your passion or some other vocation (volunteering)?
- Do you believe that you can actually make money doing this?
If you are not sure this is what you want or you have some internal conflicts don’t hesitate to contact me. I can help you to get rid of your doubts or fears.
So I had 2 weeks to kill in November. Where to go? Traveling to Prague by bus was a good deal. So I jumped on my beloved Flixbus and got a bed at a great hostel in Prague. This turned out not only to be an excellent combination of quality and price. The energy was so fine that I had a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. (more…)
After the ‘hurricane Irma experience’ I needed a down to earth place, not much hassle and a bit of nice weather. So I choose to go to Tirana: Albania’s capital.
Traveling to Tirana
A fellow female solo traveler recommended this place because she visited Tirana in March this year, 2017. She even recommended a nice place to stay: Destil Hostel. So I did. I booked a flight and the hostel for the full period of my stay. That’s 14 nights. Normally I don’t do that because I first want to experience myself. And maybe I want to travel around. But this time was different. It felt more of a holiday so I booked everything in advance. Use the Hostelworld app; it’s great! Even my flight back to the Netherlands. Relax …
Since I bought my backpack, I never tried to get it through as hand luggage. But this time I just tried. The frame is exactly 55cm long which is the permitted size of hand luggage when traveling with Transavia. You just make sure that your backpack is that much packed that it exceeds the maximum height. When staying two weeks at the same place, I never use more space. When traveling to a place with different currency, it can be a good idea to take some cash with you. Withdrawal costs you about € 5 (700 ALL = Albanese Lek).
Arriving at Tirana Airport it is a bit of a puzzle to find transportation to the town center. Ofcourse you can take a taxi but I prefer the bus. There is only one bus which drops you off at the National Museum. Tirana is not a very big place (610 inhabitants according to Wikipedia). You can easily walk from there to any place that is more of less in the center. The shuttle costs ALL 250 (€ 1,87). You will find that the traffic is very chaotic. Everybody horns and it is really a matter of survival of the fittest.
Staying in Tirana
A dorm room at the Destil Hostel costs € 9 a night. Breakfast is ALL 300. Lunch ALL 400. They can even make you a vegetarian or vegan meal. Maybe it is a surprise but this town Tirana is very much in to vegan, eco and biological food.
As in every East European capital you find a lot of difference between rich and poor. BMW’s and begging people. Also some stray dogs roaming around. They wear this sort of ear tag which shows that they are vaccinated. Some of them look kind of healthy but some are really not okay.
Tirana has lots of nice cafe and restaurant and it is ridiculously cheap! A full breakfast for less than € 4 is one of the most expensive ones I had. With great cappuccino and vegan cake.
Living in Tirana
I am not really a typical sightseeing person. I like to roam around, visit some parks, sitting there watching whatever happens, go into small shops and markets. I like to feel the city. If you like that too, Tirana is the place to be. It is not overcrowded with museums or churches. You can easily pass them by.
I like the variation of working and playing. Depending on the weather I start my walking around town in the morning and have my breakfast at some nice cafe or I start working until noon. Since there is a great working space in the hostel I am staying I don’t need to look for one. Although the tables are a bit too low to work at for hours and hours. The place has a nice energy, great background music and quiet.
Restoran Peshku I Arte – highly overrated on Tripadvisor ***
The food was great but the reviews are highly overrated. The ambience is poor, the food choice was very poor. What I wanted was not there. In fact they only had one pasta meal available. So 3 stars for the food only. They can improve more.
Mon Cheri Coffee Shop – Great breakfast ****
Excellent coffee, nice sandwich and great vegan cake. Didn’t understand why they couldn’t serve a glass of water but nice energy and friendly staff.
The Funky Moustache – Trendy bar ******
Definitely a nice place, modern, quiet and great smoothies. It is a small place that can be easy missed but it’s worth trying to find it.
Cioccolatitaliani – For chocolate lovers ******
Love the energy, interior and staff. Best cappuccino so far in Tirana. The ice cream looks great as well maybe I’ll try later this week. I really recommend this place.
If you want a low key, relaxed place to go to, Tirana is definitely the place to be!
We had this great plan my best friend and I: I came visiting her in Sint Maarten and we would both go to Bonaire for a couple of days so she could show me where she was born and raised. Plans can change so in the end I ended up solo in Bonaire for three days. Check my blog about hurricane Irma and you know why.
Since I am part of this Facebook group which is called ‘Wereldvrouwen‘ (women of the world), I have met a lot of Dutch women who live in different countries now. So when I came to Bonaire I posted this on Facebook asking if someone would like to meet with me. I ended up at Nicole’s place where I could spend two nights.
Nicole picked me up at the airport holding a sign with my name on it. That was kind of funny since she was the only one picking someone up and I was the only woman coming from Curaçao. The DiviDiviAir airplane was more of a toy plane. It contains eight seats and if you are afraid of flying, you should definitely not take that one. I had a blast!
She lives with her husband (both Dutch) as expats at this compound on the opposite side of the airport. A very pretty house with a magnificent view from the terrace and a lounge area with swimming pool and a couple of iguanas. We started off with a cocktail of course so I could adjust to the new environment.
The next days she took me with her to her volunteering work at the Animal Shelter Bonaire. I immediately got the task of cleaning the puppy area and start cuddling them. What a task that was! That night they took me out for a great dinner with lots of fish and nice wine. We ended up at this beach party with the most beautiful sunset. At midnight I fell asleep on one of the beach beds.
Nicole had a nice trip planned before I had to take the plane back to the Netherlands. I got a nice impression of this island and have to admit that I love it. The hot weather bothered me not that much because it is always windy. We had a lovely lunch at the very popular beach bar (Sorobon) where I could really see these white sandy beaches.
Thank you Nicole and Gerard for your hospitality and Arthy for the laughs and Scandinavian talks <3
It wasn’t my intention but sometimes things just happen to you. So suddenly I found myself on the island of Curaçao, part of the Dutch Caribbean just north of Venezuela. Very popular, especially with Dutch people. It could have been the state I was in but to me it was just another island.
Arriving in Curaçao
So I was evacuated by a military cargo plane coming from Sint Maarten after hurricane Irma. That was quite an experience. Who gets on such a plane, really? After getting off the plane we were put in line with the encouraging sign “Check point hurricane victims”. Well, it is bonding that’s for sure. All of us had experienced the same tragedy. And we were all on that plane.
We were offered a free night at a 5 star facility called Santa Barbara Beach & Gulf Resort, an all-inclusive resort that probably non of us victims would ever consider on booking a holiday. But of course we enjoyed as much as we could. After the whole trip and whatever happened before that, we just wanted one thing (of maybe two): get a shower and sleep!
First day in Curaçao
At 6 am I was already in the pool and had a great breakfast. I promised myself that I was going to take the most out of it. Meeting with fellow refugees from Sint Maarten I ended up at this bar drinking cocktail early in the morning.
Almost all the Dutchies went home with TUI flighing them to Amsterdam. I decided to stay in Curaçao. So I found myself a nice guesthouse in Willemstad. It is a Dutch owned place and I they gave a very warm welcome.
The next day
I decided to take my breakfast in Willemstad. Sitting on a terrace and hearing all these incredible stories about Irma was not easy. Media had no clue of what happened and so the wildest stories were told. Some I just listened to or tried to ignore. But some I felt the need to intrude without the intention of getting any sympathy or pity.
So I roamed around Willemstad, a little bit numb. Slept a lot and could stare for hours laying on my bed. I didn’t know what I was thinking or feeling anymore. On one hand I wanted to stay in Curaçao far away from home but on the other hand I wanted to make the trip I was supposed to make with my best friend and travel on to Bonaire. Which I eventually did.
Of course my Facebook, Whatsapp, Messenger and email had exploded. I was offline for more than a week and managed to get one phone call to a dear friend. She posted some updates on Facebook and dealt with some business matters. It felt so good knowing that so many people are actually worried about you and wishing you all the best. So I decided on going live on Facebook. Since this is a Dutch broadcast, there’s no need to post it here.
On September 14 I took the plane to Bonaire. Which was another once-in-a-lifetime experience traveling with DiviDiviAir.
In the end I couldn’t enjoy the island which was not fair to Curaçao. So even though it wasn’t appealing to me I should give it a chance and go back later. Maybe I will.
“Did you ever thought of cancelling your trip”, was Katja’s question during a friend’s dinner the night before hurricane Irma destroyed the island of Sint Maarten. “No, I have had worse experiences”, I answered thinking about surviving the polar winter without any running water. Little did I know. And none of us knew the devastation power of hurricane Irma. Until we met her.
A trip to heaven
My best friend is born on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. Located north of Venezuela. Together with Aruba and Curacao part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. She met the love of her life when visiting that area. He is stated at Sint Maarten, also part of the Dutch Caribbean and located east of Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands (you know: Richard Branson’s place). Just an introduction so you know a little where this story takes place.
I was never a big fan of tropical temperatures. I’d rather have a snowy environment. Of course I like the sun but this one is there all the time and even if it’s not shining, the temperature is always 30-31 degrees C. Day and night, every week, every month, year around. But I took the challenge. I had to. My best friend came to visit me when I lived in northern Norway so I had to return the favour. Which wasn’t much of a burden, really.
The cheapest ticket was on August 30. I remember she told me that this is in the middle of hurricane season but the last serious one was 22 years ago. So how bad could it be, we told eachother … Due to some private situations it happened that I came to Sint Maarten when she and her boyfriend were not there. No big deal. I had time to adjust and take care of the dogs. It was a trip to heaven.
When heaven turned into hell
The news about hurricane Irma turned slowly into some serious forecasts. A category 5 hurricane. So we had to work on the house. Get everything secured, get some gas for the car and some groceries because maybe there would be some damage. Some Dutch press approached me asking about our preparations and the vibes on the island. Being there for only a couple of days, I couldn’t really answer that much.
On September 6, 2017 she hit us. She hit us hard. We lost part of the roof which ment that all the furniture was lost and we felt lost too. Luckily we found shelter with dear friends who have a perfectly built hurricane-proof house. We immediately started to do all that was necessary. Without water and electricity. But we managed. If you are creative and positive enough, you can deal with it. At least physically. You just don’t think about the mental part.
It got really bad when the authorities set a curfew because of the robbery and assault that was going on. People do the weirdest things when they lose everything. Shops were looted, people got carjacked and hotels were being robbed. The only news we got was through the radio and this neighbor that was always giving us the latest news directly from the local police and military.
When hell turned into heaven again
So a couple of days after hurricane Irma passed, their was this news on the radio that everybody with a Dutch passport could come to the airport to get off the island. No list, no preferences (well maybe some). Just come, stand in line and hope for the best. Since I temporarily lived with doctors who got this dispensation to go on the road, I was taken to the airport in a heartbeat.
Then the waiting started. First I gave up, which wasn’t a good idea. Later I was sent away because there would not be a plane coming that day but eventually I got on the plane. It took me two days waiting in line. Another example of ‘never give up‘. Two days. In the burning sun. With all the military trying their best to make it as comfortable as possible. But there were too many people, and not enough military.
Finally on September 11 (…) we left the island of Sint Maarten in a military cargo plane (C17) heading to Curacao. We arrived at 9 p.m. and got a very warm welcome from the TUI travel agency who put us in this 5 star all-inclusive resort. “So you can fresh up, eat and drink whatever you want and have a good night sleep”. The longest shower I ever took. Putting on my little black dress – which was ment to wear on Bonaire where my best friend and I would have a party. The next morning at 10 a.m. we were already drinking cocktails and counting our blessings.
Life after hurricane Irma
It felt so unfair. Me being in the safe world and my best friend surviving on an almost completely destroyed island. No water and no electricity for a long time. But then again, that’s life. She has her life on Sint Maarten and is building from scratch together with her love. Me, I am not a Caribbean girl. I don’t belong there.
I decided to stick to the original plan. So I went to Bonaire, as planned. Since I already had my return ticket from Bonaire to Amsterdam there was no need to change that. I got the opportunity to fly directly to Amsterdam with TUI but I passed. My intention was still having a holiday and take the most out of it. That wasn’t much.
Everybody was so sweet. They all helped and tried everything they could to make me feel at home and giving me a great time. On Curacao and on Bonaire. And of course I enjoyed it to some extend. But I guess it takes more time than I wanted. Being such an impatient person, that’s a challenge. And even now, writing this down when sitting in a hostel in Tirana I can’t enjoy everything to the fullest yet.
As a digital nomad, Madrid can be a great choice if you want to work and play in a European city with a friendly climate and reasonable prices. Especially when you like the southern – Mediterranian – gastronomic culture. All the advantages of a big modern city combined with a relaxed way of living. (more…)
If you (are going to) travel frequently, it’s nice to know some travel rules and hacks. Even if you are a non-conformist like me, you can’t escape from (security) rules even if they seem ridiculous. Just stick to this list and everything will be fine. I even added some advice concerning traveling and transportation in Europe. (more…)
When a fellow digital nomad asked me if I wanted to go traveling to Crete for a month I didn’t hesitate a bit. She rented this little apartment in the center of Heraklion and needed to change plans. So I took this opportunity to go to Greece. The last time I was here was in 1984 when I got engaged with my boyfriend back then. We never married … (more…)
I have had several bags and suitcases before I bought the backpack I have now: Queshua 50l for ladies. It’s light weight and has a frame which is perfect for your back and hips. The straps are suitable for ladies and it has all sorts of clever pockets, lines and secret places. Well lets not turn this blog into a sales page for this backpack. Let’s talk about a clever way of packing your backpack.
Way of traveling
Of course it depends on how you travel and where to (climate). Let’s start with traveling short periods and using a plane for transportation. This is in general my way of traveling. My backpack has a frame which is 55 cm high. For most airlines this can be used as hand luggage. That will safe you some money and time.
In this example I am not packing any camping stuff. Only what’s necessary for a one of two week staying in a hostel or hotel or any other kind of accommodation that includes a bed and bed sheets. In this case you only need some clothes and further things that will come in handy.
Choosing your backpack
There are a lot of YouTube videos about the best and most efficient way of packing your backpack. Watch as many as you like. I will tell what works best for me. I do like the roll-your-clothes way but it works better in a suitcase with a hard cover. Not for packing your backpack.
When choosing your backpack, be sure you can load it at the top (with a cord) as well as a zipper at the front. So you have two ways of accessing your stuff. Having a rain cover can also be very handy.
If you want to carry your laptop with you, be sure there is a pocket made into the frame so you wear it close to your back. I have a 11″ Chromebook which fits perfectly in my backpack. If you need a big laptop for whatever reason, consider bringing a tablet with you when traveling.
What to pack
Of course it depends on the climate and how you deal with that. Me, I am always warm. I like loose clothing and almost all my clothes are made of either cotton, wool or linen. Polyester is really terrible with warm weather unless it is something you don’t wear that often. Like that little black dress. Of course every woman needs to have one and have it with you at all time. I wear it at a beach party with flip-flops or at the Christmas dinner with some great pumps.
A light weighted all weather coat is a must! Please invest some money into that and buy a Gore Tex or some Scandinavian brand. They know how to make clothes! If it is wind and water resistant but thin, you can even wear it in tropical places during rainy days. If it is big enough, you can wear a sweater underneath. I tend to buy jackets or coats at the men’s department because they are not so tightly fit.
Here’s my list of clothing depending on the temperature and your constitution of course. Clothing for temperatures below 0 degrees are very specific. They are not stated below.
Below 20-25 degrees
- 2-3 tight tank tops
- 2-3 tight t-shirts
- 2 long sleeves (thin)
- 2 sweaters/vests (thin and thick)
- 2 jogging trousers (thin and thick)
- 2 pair of woolen socks
- 1 pair of high hiking shoes and/or 1 pair of sneakers
- 2 shawls (wool and cotton)
- 1 cap
- 1 pair of woolen gloves without fingers
- 1 (warm) coat
- 1 pair of jeans
- 3-4 pieces of underwear
- 2 bra’s
- flip-flops or slippers
- 1-2 loose tank tops
- 3-4 loose t-shirts
- 1 blouse or thin vest with long sleeves
- 2 long cotton or linen trousers
- 2 shorts
- 1-2 pair of small socks
- 1 pair of cotton shoes
- 1 big codon shawl (for wearing over your bikini or your shoulders when they are burned)
- 1 bikini
- 1-2 beach dresses
- 1 thin all-weather coat
- 3-4 pieces of underwear
- 2 bra’s
- 2 pair of flip-flops
Always take with you
- super fast drying towel
- drinking bottle
- name tag for your bag
- passport (plus printed copy)
- credit card
- local money in cash
- charging cord
- (bluetooth) earphones
- max 10x 100 ml bottles with shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, body lotion, washing-hands-without-water gel, deodorant, sun cream, etc.
- plastic bag(s)
- transparent bag with zipper for liquids
- extra (hand)bag
- pen and notebook
What I don’t pack
I never pack any first aid stuff. I just count on the places that I go to. This would be totally different when you go camping outside of course. Never take any (Swiss) knife with you or even a multi tool. Chances are that customs will take it immediately. I also never take a flashlight with me. That’s on my phone.
If you are going to parts in the world where there are longer periods of darkness, a headlamp can be very useful because you have both hands free. No hairbrush, hairdryer, gel or other stuff because I simply don’t use it. Travel is low maintenance hair. Neither any make-up (only some lip gloss which also works when your lips are very dry).
Packing your backpack
I have tried many ways of packing but I have found out that the more loose the clothes are packed, the easier the backpack feels. So don’t try to fold or roll them too tight. In fact, you can just drop your clothes and they will find their own way. When carrying it on your back, let gravity do the job.
Try packing your backpack the way I do it. Always start with your second pair of shoes at the bottom. On top of that you put your plastic bag(s). Then your second pair of trousers / jeans, second pair of long sleeves / blouse / shirt and build up to what you need for the first night and morning. So you don’t have to look for some clean underwear in the bottom of your backpack. Always end with your coat so you can grab it easily along the way.
I put my liquids on the inside pocket of my backpack lit, my drinking bottle in one of the side pockets together with my name tag and some other small stuff. My handbag contains my purse, passport, phone and some small stuff like handkerchief, spare glasses, earphones and some food.