Go-with-the-flow-travel: Meet Vero
1. Can you introduce yourself quickly in one or two sentences?
I am Veronica (friends and family call me Vero) and I am a work hard-play harder type of person. I have discovered that my greatest passion in life is to travel to different corners of the world, to meet new people, to experience different ways of life, to get a feel of the local cultures and spiritual life in different parts of the world - but as a nature lover, I also have a great love for outdoor activities - hiking and biking being my favourite activities during my free time.
photo credits: Vero
2. Vero, I met you quite a while ago when Oye (a friend of mine) brought you along for a girl-hangout :) Since then, you have been travelling to various places. Where are you at the moment?
I lived in 5 countries and I believe when we met I was living in both the Netherlands and in Scotland - in the meanwhile, I have moved to the US and now I am based in San Francisco, working in Silicon Valley and taking any opportunity to travel the world.
3. Do you have any favourite country/city/place?
My all time favourite is Amsterdam - I simply could not describe in words all the reasons why - I guess it's a combo of relaxed life, the vibe of the city, the people I met, the canals, people biking literally everywhere, the bluntness and directness of the Dutchies - all fit very well with my way of being and bring me immense joy.
And I have two more favourites:
- Vietnam, for the contrast to everything I am used to in terms of living life, for the great joy people display despite the hard living conditions; for pho and people's genuine friendliness.
- Canada - because the nature is supreme: vast lands covered with forests, the majestic Rocky Mountains, the turquoise lakes, and the glaciers - all contribute to the 'off the grid' - relax -recharge feeling I experienced like that nowhere else.
photo credits: Vero
4. I’m a big fan of go-with-the-flow travel. Do you plan ahead and always know how long you’re staying at one destination or do you prefer not to plan too much?
I am a bit of both, to be honest. I have been a planner in the past but I see how, lately, I am slowly changing to a 'just go with the flow' person - all I care about is first night's accommodation and booking the flight, for those trips, which require booking a plane trip - and only because I try to avoid paying extra for last minute tickets. Once I end up in a place, I either rent a car or explore the surroundings by foot/bike/public transportation - most of the time, I end up renting a bike or booking places where bikes are provided.
I cannot really say how long I am staying in a place, on average. When I flew to Hawaii, I ended up on 2 islands instead of only one and also ended up going back to my favourite place for a few extra nights just because the place was chilled and gave me a good feeling.
Another time, when I was in Bali, I thought I was going to check out the Gili Islands quickly before returning to Bali and do some yoga and other related activities - but when I reached Gili Air, I simply fell in love with the place and I ended up spending 2 weeks there, staying with a local family and actually attending a local wedding with them. This is my 'go with the flow' side.
I have other trips where I sketch a plan in case I want to cross out some locations and I need to make sure I am not dragging in one area too much (most of these place are places where there is sooooo much to do and see, I get excited checking them all)
5. What are the 3 most important things you look for in a destination?
This is a very good question but my destinations are so random and so different from each other, let me see if I figure out a pattern.... :) First of all, something new is exciting for me - ie: visiting Asia for the first time, visiting Africa for the first time, etc. Other times, it's all about a place that profoundly marked me at some point via reading about it or hearing stories about it, or simply because of a gut feeling that I need to go there. I have noticed that I rarely go to the same place twice (the huge exception being Amsterdam, which I consider to be my soul's home anyway).
I guess being different than what I already learned about or have already visited is another criteria. Generally I am not afraid of trying something new and I am actually in my comfort zone when things are out of my comfort zone :) This means that I end up in funny adventures at almost every destination.
6. How do you earn money while travelling ? Working remotely or do you pick up jobs along the way?
I am usually negotiating lots of vacation time when I am in a job (and taking lots of time off when I was working independently). I do not really work when I travel - I mostly use the time to explore. That means that I just use saved money for all my travelling.
photo credits: Vero
7. Do you have a monthly budget when you travel? If yes, how do you stick to it? Any tips?
Because I have a job and I don't really work remotely in general, I generally don't have a budget - but I try not to break the bank, which means I make sure that if I stay in a very expensive hotel for example, I balance that with staying at a cheaper place the next day or at my next destination. It always worked out quite well like that.
I have also learned some tricks along the way:
- I don't really like to have breakfast included in the cost of my room - I prefer to check out local bakeries, local coffee shops and in general local food, over having a continental breakfast.
- I am looking for those little details such as: bikes included in the cost - I enjoy exploring by bike the most - which means I save some money for transport too.
- I book my flight during sales periods and use apps such as Momondo or Hopper to keep me informed about best times when to book.
- I have a bunch of phone apps that really help me get organised and keep track of my bookings like: BestParking, Xe.com (currency conversion), which help me not spend a fortune due to being poorly informed.
Other than that, I am not going crazy with food and drinks - I prefer eating what locals eat, getting a feel of how do they live their daily life. I usually ask locals for advice on where to eat and then I add: Is this where you'd eat every day? Most of the time, the local restaurants are gems and the food is much cheaper and tastier.
8. What are the downsides of living the nomad lifestyle?
[Laughs]: I wish I lived a nomad lifestyle. In a sense I could be considered one, for I have not set roots anywhere yet, but I usually spend a number of years in a location, and then explore the surrounding areas or the areas, which are easily accessible from that location/country.
With Facetime and all kinds of social media and messengers, I don't really feel disconnected from my dear ones, but there are times when I would love to simply sit and chat over a cup of tea or glass of wine with certain people, then I realise they are a few thousand miles away. But I am generally sociable and can make friends quite easily.
photo credit: Vero
9. On the other hand, what do you love most about this lifestyle?
I am a sociable person so I love interacting with people from all backgrounds, all religions, all social classes, all corners of the world. I also love the fact that I don't get a chance to get bored. If I get bored, I move somewhere else. Curiosity and excitement are my GPS.
10. What are the 5 things you always take with you when you're travelling?
Haha the classics: passport, money & cards, phone - that's actually just 3 and I am sure I could easily survive anywhere only with those 3. If I have space for extra, but not completely necessary, I take my sunscreen (could be bought at the destination though) and either my earphones or a book.
11. What’s the craziest/funniest/most memorable experience you’ve had so far?
Oh I have lots of episodes as most of the time I end up in trouble (or maybe the trouble is looking for me, hard to tell). A recent one is riding a scooter in Bagan, Myanmar, with 3 people I met on the same day, deciding to go and see the sunset in the middle of nowhere, from an unmapped temple (this was taken off the maps due to the fact it was affected by an earthquake and its floors were at risk of collapsing).
So we ended up on a long ride in the middle of nowhere, guided by this Dutch guy who seemed to have known about the temple from some locals. We watched an amazing sunset while a big storm was approaching - we ended up stranded in the temple for a few hours and decided to make a move when we realised that the lands were flooded and we could not actually ride all the way back in complete darkness, with the only lights being thunderbolts.
The land was so muddy that we could not even move the electric scooters - and ended up pushing them most of the way through mud, falling over multiple times. Ultimately, two local girls aged 11 and 19, who were selling clothes at the temple, helped us out to find the way back into the village. I entered my 4-star hotel reception covered in mud head to toes and the receptionist ran to welcome me and offer me an umbrella: 'Miss, Welcome to Bagan'
photo credits: Vero
12. Where can people follow you on social media?
I try to stay off social media and spend more time outdoors, meeting people in real life instead of virtually meeting them. It does not always work. I'm only on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/verone.vero) even though I am constantly being told I need to have an instagram account - perhaps next time we chat I will have that ready (laughs)