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For the Love of Travel Series- Lily from Lily Wanderlust (Guest Post)

Lily in Ghent

Today, I bring you a post from one of my best friends, not just in my expat life, but in life in general. Lily of Lily Wanderlust. After all, it isn't many people you down two bottles of wine with over lunch the first time you meet them. I could go on and on about how awesome she is, but I think it might be best for me to just let her speak for herself. Here it goes. 

Tell us a bit about you.

Hi there, Georgia Peach Abroad readers! I’m Lily, an expat blogger and friend of Kaitlin’s here in the Netherlands. Amsterdam has been my home for the most part since 2009 when I moved here on the fly to work as an au pair and in that time, serendipity brought my Dutchman and I together and now we live along the canals.

Where are you right now?

Keying in tonight at home in Amsterdam.

Where did you grow up?

My early years were spent outside of Chicago, so my roots are Midwestern but my formative years were spent in Central Florida which explains my penchant for southern charm, bluegrass tunes and a constant craving for sunshine! My mom is a flight attendant, so it’s no surprise my first passport was issues at only a few months old and every holiday from school was spent in a different corner of the world! I’ve been to 35 countries so far and plan to keep that list growing. My mom definitely instilled an appreciation for cultures and globetrotting. 

What is your favorite destination and why?

My current favorite is South Africa! I honestly had no idea what to expect before spending three weeks trekking around on safari in Kruger Park and road tripping along the Garden Route with my mom. Aside from the friendly, interesting people of South Africa, learning about nature on safari and exploring a completely new side of the world, there's just so much to learn about yourself and others while traveling through new places! 

What is your least favorite destination and why?

You’ve got me racking my brain trying to think up a place that I’d probably never return to again and I can’t think of any! In my experience, every location has its perks and disappointments and every adventure comes with a lot of laughs and a few tears of frustration. Although, I will admit that studying abroad in China made me lose all appetite for their cuisine, sadly.

What is your favorite vacation memory?

In January, I spent a few weeks back home in Florida. It’s my current favorite for the great memories I made catching up with hometown friends. Most afternoons were spent relaxing in the sunshine so this wasn’t what I’d consider wild traveling, just a (well needed) holiday. Spending cozy, quality time with my amazingly sharp 95-year-old Granny was a big part of my trip home as well. 

What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?

I split my week between an English language preschool and working as the Lifestyle Editor forIamExpat.nl a media platform for, you guessed it- internationals in the Netherlands. You could say I’m very immersed in the expat community here in Amsterdam, which makes sense since culture and creativity are two important aspects in both positions. Engaging with other’s who are living overseas is great and after going through so many up’s and down’s in my own expat experience it feels good to help other’s find new ways to settling into life abroad.  I’d love a job that requires more travel and still haven’t given up on my mom’s dream for me to join a flight crew! At the moment, any travel for work is within the Netherlands and usually related to international community events.

How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with your?

I’m definitely a light packer- that is, unless I’m heading back from America with a suitcase of my favorite bits from home (especially hot sauce, sour patch kids and beef jerky for my Dutchman). For trips two weeks and under day backpack and a purse fits enough. This backpack and sleeping bag have been to a few different continents with me and I recommend both!

Clothes always flex with location but I’m a casual traveler. Mix and match outfits work great and save space. In my experience, long skirts, a jean jacket and a multi purpose scarves can go a long way with the right clothing combinations. 

At least one camera is always on hand while traveling! I use the Cannon Powershot G series, my Iphone 4s and on occasion one of my 35mm cameras like an old Nikon or Holga or FishEye. Capturing special moments while traveling make the best souvenirs. 

My must-have list includes: an mask, q-tips, rosebud salve, baby wipes, mini first aid kit and a good book. Any favorite things usually end up staying tucked inside and ready for the next trip! You can read about how I packed for safari in Kruger Park here.

Do you have any trips planned for the future?

One of my best friends from back home is visiting me in Amsterdam (this week!) and we’re heading off for a few days in Paris together! It’s her first time in Europe and I can’t wait to her around Amsterdam! Plus, I haven’t been in Paris in years so there’s a lot to look forward too.

How do you plan your trips?

Planning trips is one of my favorite hobbies! Not just for the anticipating and curiosity that comes with discovering a new place but also because I genuinely really, really, enjoy research and planning! I like to pick my top 5 - 10 spots to check out (museums, festivals, monuments, eateries, etc…) and the adventure comes along with trying to navigate your way there- I love maps and navigation, getting lost is half the adventure!

What is your dream vacation?

South East Asia  and India are both high on my list for my next big trip. My Dutchman has visited multiple times and a slight hint of envy always strikes when he talks about how amazing his adventures were! Visiting India has always been a dream and after this much time spent in Holland I’ll take as much sunshine and warmth as I can get!

What kind of traveler are you? 

Budget travel is definitely a preference, along with discovering places off the beaten path and supporting the local businesses and artisans. Growing up, my mom and I made it all over the world with a rental car and an overly examined map and that’s still how I tend to travel today. A lot of our favorite adventures came along whilst trying to get to ‘our final destination’ (isn’t that what they all say?) For suggestions, my travel favorites are Lonely PlanetSpotted by Locals and Couchsurfing. Of course, if you have any connection to a local (through friends or family) then it’s great to get in touch and hear tips from locals.

After finishing university I spent 6 weeks backpacking and couch surfing around Scandinavia with a childhood friend. We made it all the up to the Arctic Circle of Finland for a friend’s summer wedding and also celebrated Swedish midsummer in the countryside in an adorable farm house stuffed full of Couchsurfers! That was such a random and memorable travel moments!

My personal blog is www.lilywanderlust.com,  a lifestyle blog about everyday adventures of life in Amsterdam. You can also find me on instagrampinteresttwitter!

Thanks so much Lily! Check out her awesome pictures below. If you love her pictures or have any questions/comments drop them below. Also if you want to help a student out and be part of the series, drop me a line at GAPeachAbroad@gmail.com

South Africa

South Africa with a Cheetah

South Africa

China

Lily in China

Panda China

HollandDutch Canals

Sweden

Midsummer Sweden

Venice

St MarksB

 

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For the Love of Travel Series- Amanda from Poppies and Ice Cream (Guest Post)

This week, I am introducing you to Amanda a fellow expat here in the Netherlands who blogs over at Poppies and Ice Cream. Amanda is fluent in Spanish and has offered to help me improve my language skills. This is one of the many, many reasons I love having a blog, you get to meet so many interesting people. 

Here it goes. 

Tell the readers a bit about you.
 
I am a Mexican-Swiss-British (by accident) girl. Sounds complicated, but, it’s not so much. I was born in the UK (because my parents were studying there), my mom is Mexican, my father is Swiss and my lovely husband is Dutch. I am a biologist / veterinarian who loves baking, reading, traveling, discovering new places, jumping around like crazy and red dresses.
 
Where are you at this moment?
 
I currently live in The Netherlands.
 
Where did you grow up?
 
I grew up in Mexico, where I lived in different cities.
 
What is your favorite destination and why?
 
After thinking long and hard (there are just so many places I love), I think the answer is Barcelona. The first time I went there I was just “passing by”, on my way back to Geneva, Switzerland, where I studied at the time, after having spent the summer working at a Physiology lab in Santiago de Compostela. I went to Barcelona to visit a friend, whom I had met in Venice at the youth-hostel where we stayed, and also, because back when low-cost airlines were just starting, cheap flights were only available from “La ciudad condal”. As soon as I set foot in the
city I knew I would be back. To live. And I did. First I stayed a year, as an Erasmus student, and then I went back for 4 years to study my second degree. The city is full of life, and magic I would say. It is lively, young and international. It has everything you could wish for: mountains, check. The beach, check. Lots of parks, check. Cultural activities at every moment, check. Lovely medieval streets where to get lost, places full of history in unexpected places*, delicious food, friendly people, buildings that could belong in fairy tales**, perfect weather, beautiful avenues….
 
*For example, the Biblioteca Nacional de Catalunya lays in the building which used to be the very same Hospital, dating from the 15th century, where Santiago Ramón y Cajal worked and made his fascinating discoveries on the ways neurons work.
 
** Doesn’t the houses in Park Guell look out of Hansel and Gretel? And what about Casa Batllo or Casa Milla? Green dragon backs, towers that seem made of soft ice-cream….
 
What is your least favorite destination and why?
 
I have yet to find a place that I haven’t loved. I guess we always try to make the most out of any trip and even if I find myself in a seemingly abandoned train station in the middle of nowhere, I can always read a book, go to the supermarket to search for the local treats, or go to a movie theater or a square and just sit and people-watch.
 
What is your favorite vacation memory?
 
It must have been the time I met my husband on an airplane. He was sitting right next to me and we did not stop talking for the duration of the flight. (You can read all about it on Poppies and Ice Cream
 
What is your profession and do you ever travel for business?
 
I am a veterinarian, though I do not currently work in my field. I used to work for a big hotel-reservations website, but I spent my time reading guest reviews and learning all about which hotels had mice, lizards or squirrels and which were located near good restaurants, among other crazy stories. I did not really get to travel for work though.
 
How do you pack and do you have any items that you have to take with you?
 
I normally pack in the last-minute rush; sometimes early in the morning of the day I am traveling. I try to bring items that can be used more than once and combined in different ways (jeans, one or two thick sweaters, a scarf, t-shirts in colors that go with everything else). It is important to bring a good jacket, a rain-coat depending on your destination and comfortable shoes that will not make your feet hurt after lots and lots of walking. If it’ll be warm lots of dresses and a denim jacket do the trick. I bring an extra plastic bag or two as well as Ziplocs. Snacks, tissue and some first-aid supplies* are always good to have with you.
 
** anti-inflammatories, Pepto-Bismol tablets, band-aids, disinfectant…
 
Do you have any trips planned for the future?
 
Yes, we are headed to Northern California (San Francisco and the surrounding area) later this year. I am so excited.
 
How do you plan your trips?
 
I think of a place (I pretty much want to go everywhere, so that is not normally a problem), I figure out the cheapest way to get there (bus, low-cost airline, train) and try to find out if there are any offers for our destination of choice (for instance every now and then airlines release discounted tickets for short periods of time). Right now there are many websites that let you compare rates among companies, I use these to check prices and then book directly with the company involved. Road trips are also lots of fun, Google maps is a great tool to find the places where you would like to stop between A and B and to calculate reasonable distances to travel every day of a journey. Once we sort all of that out, we find a place to stay. We like clean places that are well communicated (even if we have to take public transportation, that´s ok, it adds to the travel experience). I have stayed in youth hostels before, but nowadays in Europe the rates start at circa 25 EUR per night, and since I travel with my husband, with that price we can already stay at a nice, simple hotel, with lots of added comfort and privacy. Staying at apartments is also great because you get to cook your own meals and spare some pennies that you can spend otherwise. After that it is just a matter of studying the place, figuring out if there are specific sights / museum exhibits / restaurants or bars / places that we would like to visit, and otherwise, once there, we just get a map (often free at Tourist Offices) and proceed to get lost in the city and let it surprise us.
 
What is your dream vacation?
 
Oh this one is hard. I really would like to see South East Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia… Costa Rica is also pending on my list. But if you just bring me to France or Italy I will be happy as well. I still have to go to Chiapas, Tulum and Palenque in Mexico. I like to see the places, know the people and experience the local culture, so pretty much any destination will suit me.
 
What kind of traveler are you?
 
I tend to prefer city trips, and I love flying, airports are among my favorite places on earth. Traveling by train is also exciting though, I would like to take the Trans-Siberian train from Russia to China, through all the countries in between once.(Kaitlin here, this is my ultimate travel dream too!) I normally travel with my husband, or with my family. I have also traveled with my 2 best friends, during college. I don’t normally take group tours, I kind of hate being told what to do and given a limited schedule. I prefer discovering things by myself, and stumbling upon places by surprise, which is why we like to walk and walk and walk. Beach vacations and camping are also fun, but I think those are a lot more fun as children or if you are traveling with kids. These days, we kind of get bored if we are just laying in the sun not doing anything. For our honeymoon we combined 3 days of beach- chilling in the Mexican Pacific coast (which were more than enough) with a road trip that took us to other cities (Colima, Guadalajara, Tequila, Tlaquepaque, Manzanillo, Puerto Vallarta, Tenacatita).
 
Thanks so much Amanda, I had so much fun reading about your adventures. If you have any comments, leave them below. Nothing would make our day brighter! And, if you want to participate in the For Love of Travel Series, send me some love at gapeachabroad@gmail.com
 
Barcelona 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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