The thrill of a new adventure

Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown - Anthony Bourdain

Have you ever left a place knowing you’ve “done” all the attractions in the guidebooks but you feel like you hardly know more about it than before you visited? When you’re busy rushing from highlight A to highlight B, you can easily miss the purpose of travel.

By stepping off the tourist trail, you tap into the local way of life, cuisine, and culture of a destination. You put yourself out there to come across exciting discoveries. This results in a much more enjoyable and gratifying experience.

Discovering the world through a different lens

Cultural activities that stimulate your senses

Quirky museums in America

A local guide can turn an ordinary visit to a place – like the buzzing French Quarter in New Orleans – into an unexpected adventure. During a historic walking tour, you’ll hear local tales about former residents and discover hidden museums such as the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. Keep your eyes open for an array of voodoo potions, including the famous ‘Love Potion No. 9’. No culture seeker’s visit is complete without these kinds of encounters.

Experience the power of Pow Wow in Canada

Celebrate Canadian First Nations culture. Pow Wow is ceremonial indigenous gatherings when you find multiple generations coming together to enjoy food, honour traditions, forge a sense of community and practice spiritual healing. Bask in the joyful reclamation of traditional dances and songs, and sense the palpable pride of Indigenous dancers, drummers, and singers as they embody the power of Pow Wow. Attending one of these dynamic events is such a great way to learn more about the traditional and modern Aboriginal life and culture.

Pick tea leaves in Japan’s countryside

Experience a homestay with farming families in the countryside of Japan. During your stay on a farm, you get familiar with the tea plants by picking tea leaves in the picturesque tea fields together with the tea farmer. When you’ve gathered enough leaves, you’ll learn the best ways to brew delicious tea, according to the famous Japanese tea tradition, while sharing meals with your host family.

Have dinner with the locals in Singapore

Share a homecooked Peranakan meal with a Singaporean family at their home and see how people go about their lives in a typical social HDB flat. Taste delicious Nonya dishes, made especially for you. You’ll learn more about Singapore’s rich culture and heritage through its cuisine. The beauty of sharing a meal with strangers is that it immediately builds rapport and transcends language barriers and cultural differences. Besides receiving insider tips about the city, you’ll make new friends for life.

Discover street art cities

Seeing vibrant artwork in the streets makes us happy. Adding an explosion of colour to dull grey concrete walls and blighted facades can revitalise a neighbourhood, make it walkable, beautiful, safe, and inviting.

When you’re in a city like New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Toronto or Montreal, join a guided street art tour. You’ll be rewarded with insights into a city’s social, cultural, or political dynamics as well as the artistic aesthetics of a particular neighborhood. Intriguing street art quotes will make you stop and think. It’s also a great way to explore the hidden areas of the city.

Artwork by Kobra 

Sustainable choices and slow travel

An essential part of your travel experience

Travelling brings us closer to the most stunning natural wonders and connects us with cultures around the globe. What a privilege it’s to be able to see this amazing world. By choosing to travel responsibly, we reduce our impact on the environment. Besides, when we immerse and connect with a new place, we’re more likely to care and give something back to the communities we visit. I help you with making sustainably conscious choices. Whenever I can, I work with local partners who are passionate about the service they provide and place great importance on local well-being. Your money goes right back into the community. And you get personal attention and memories that last a lifetime.

In addition to all the adventures, I encourage you to slow down and enjoy the luxury of time. The joy is not in arriving at your destination but in the journey. By slowing down, you take the time to connect to the place, taste the local food or discover the culture and nature. Imagine having these experiences as opposed to ploughing through crowded tourist attractions at rapid speed or rushing through a checklist of experiences in a blurred flurry. This way, you’ll have room for pleasant surprises and authenticity, you’ll have time for yourself to enjoy and remember all you’ve encountered. What a joy such a trip will be!

Bring your travel dreams to life

Overcoming the paradox of choice

You’ve a wish list filled with travel goals. But when life gets in the way, it’s tough to figure out exactly when, where, and how to successfully plan and book your trip.

Nowadays, it’s incredibly easy to book a flight or hotel plan online. However, planning a creative road trip can be a big task and requires expertise. On average, it takes a person over 20 hours to research and book a multi-destination trip, without even knowing for sure if it actually will be good or worth your money.

There’s so much information on the internet. How can you tell if the information you’ve found is coming from a reliable source? How do you choose? Second-guessing your decisions? So, paralyzed with indecision, you go back to what you know, and often you just choose what’s popular and familiar.

It’s easy to get excited and try to fit lots of sightseeing and driving time into a day. Leaving you hardly any spontaneity on your driving path.

Let me take the hours of research and the logistics of the entire trip off your hands. With a balanced and offbeat travel plan, you’ll go to places not only on your bucket list, but also to parts unknown, and try new activities that you never imagined you’d enjoy. And submerge in another world and experience the difference between ‘being’ somewhere and merely ‘visiting’. This extra touch ensures this trip will live on in both your memory and your heart for years to come.

Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life and travel will leave marks on you.

Anthony Bourdain

For the journey of a lifetime to America, Canada, Japan or Singapore

Taking you beyond the guidebook

As a child, I lived in Singapore and Japan. These places still hold a very special place in my heart. I first set foot in North America in 2010. From the moment of my arrival, it was love at first sight. Even after numerous road trips, America and Canada continue to fascinate me. If you want epic, this is the continent to be. Here you’ll find mythical journeys, mind-boggling scenery, and – beyond those headline-grabbing, culture-dominating cities – raw wilderness. You can literally hit the mountains, beaches, and desert all in one trip!

My intention to you, as your travel designer, is to understand what you want to get out of your holiday and then work with you to create that experience. Whether it be to stay on a Dude Ranch in Texas, explore the pristine wilderness of Yukon, relax and soak the day away in a Japanese onsen or eat at the cheapest Michelin Starred restaurant in the world in Singapore, I’m committed to getting you to the right places with the right people to make that happen.

Being a destination specialist, I take part in continuous training programmes, meet up with my local partners and Tourism Boards, and travel to these countries regularly. This enables me to deepen my understanding and interest in these countries, their people and culture. And to embed this new knowledge in creating unique trips for you.

Let’s put the person back in personal!

I used to be baffled by how hard it was to plan my road trips, mostly due to the overwhelming choices and limited time I had to spend on research. Booking my trips through a travel agency wasn’t a solution either. I often ended up with an entirely different experience from what I originally wanted. A cookie-cutter and fast-paced tour package, not the bespoke trip I had asked for. I just knew there had to be a better way.

Inspired by this disappointment, I set out to create a more enjoyable experience for myself and other introverts like me. Taking more time to explore and re-energise. For me, slow travel is real travel. Staying in one place for a longer period, getting to know it, not just its sites. but the people, way of life, and stories. To dig deeper, wider, further.

A custom-made travel itinerary takes more than just slapping together a transport, accommodations, and attractions plan. The secret is in collaborating with a caring fellow traveller who can put herself in your shoes, takes the stress out of planning, and advises which travel experiences to include in your trip. You will travel to places you may not have known about and experience things that you’ve never imagined you would love, at a slower pace.

You’re unique, so should be your trips too.

SparkLing One services

How it works

To create a curated trip for you, let’s start by having a chat. I can learn more about your past travels and what you’re looking for in your upcoming holiday. This is also an excellent opportunity to find out if we are a right fit. I specialise in crafting itineraries that get to the very essence of a place for couples with a passion for discovery.

Once we decide to work together, we’ll take a deep dive into your travel wishes. To get the most out of your next trip, I’ll introduce you to the art of slow travel. Instead of dashing from one must-see site to another, you’ll go deeper by exploring the cultural aspects and nature of a destination through specific themes. You’ll feel inspired, enriched, and well-rested after your travel experience.

I look forward to creating immersive travel experiences for you and bringing your travel dreams to life.

“The details are not the details. They make the design.” – Charles Eames

During our first virtual meeting, I start by discovering more about you and understanding your purpose and intention for your next adventure. The more information you share with me, the better I’m able to customise your travel experience.

Your travel desires, goals and interests drive the itinerary, while my destination knowledge and insider tips help to polish it off. For all destinations, I partner up with local experts to create curated memorable travel experiences for you.

When the trip design is ready, we go over your outline plan and the estimated costs you can factor into your financial planning. I’ll work with you to refine your itinerary until it’s the perfect fit.

When the travel plan is finalised and after full payment, the detailed plan with information on all parts of your trip from start to finish, will be sent to you per email. You can book your journey using the links I provide or you might prefer to have me book it for you. Booking service is only available for clients based in the Netherlands.

What you get:
– 2 x 1-hour sessions via Zoom
– a curated travel plan

The starting fee for creating a travel itinerary is Euro 375.

Travel has become more complicated due to the global pandemic. When leisure travel slowly resumes around the world, you might want some extra support. I’ve created this package so you can travel with peace of mind. I’m here for you, accompanying you throughout your travel experience, supporting you every step of the way before and during your trip.

Booking your trip
Once you’ve decided to have your trip booked by me, I’ll start locking in all of the components – while you sit back and relax. All bookings are placed with United Travel and you can pay in full or in two installments directly to United Travel.

Preparation
Travelling abroad requires preparation, which is why provide additional information and advice. After our Zoom session, you’ll be all set to travel like a pro.

– entry requirements and other procedures
– health and safety travel tips
– travel and cancellation insurance
– travel vaccination
– travel packing tips
– travel etiquette dos and don’ts
– tips and tricks

During your trip
When you require assistance during your trip, my local partner or I’ll be your safety net on speed dial. After all, I’ve designed and booked your trip and know your travel plan inside out. I can help you sort out any travel hiccups and ensure your entire trip is smooth sailing. You can stay confident and relaxed during your travels.

What you get:
– confirmation of your booking and travel documents
– 1-hour pre-trip session via Zoom, recorded so you can refer to it later
– support via email and WhatsApp during your trip

The fee for the SparkLing Traveller Care Package is Euro 185 (only available for clients based in the Netherlands).

This session is helpful when you want to plan and book your trip yourself but you require some guidance, insider tips or travel hacks, without spending hours on research.

1. You’re planning to travel to Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore or the USA. Before you start building your trip itinerary, you can bounce some ideas off me. I share my recommendations to help you create meaningful travel moments.

2. You’ve created your road trip but you’re uncertain whether you’ve included too many activities to do or driving time into a day. Let’s figure out what’s important to you and simplify your travel planning.

3. You’ve already booked your trip. Great! Right now you’re looking for insider tips, local guides or travel practical tips. Together we’ll flesh out your plan.

What you get:
– A 1.5-hour session via Zoom, recorded so you can refer to it later

Please send me your questions beforehand so we can identify the main areas where you need my support. This ensures we get the most out of our time and that I can answer whatever questions you have.

The fee for a SparkLing Shortcut session is Euro 125.

  • I’m affiliated with United Travel, a Dutch franchise organisation for independent travel consultants. You are assured of excellent quality and guarantees (ANVR, SGR and Calamiteitenfonds). I place all bookings with United Travel (ANVR 5471 and SGR 3642). Instalment payments of a booking are made directly to United Travel (Dutch Chamber of Commerce 59901152).

  • New York City’s subway, train and bus systems are pretty convenient. However, sometimes you simply want to escape to nature for a few days, the easiest option is to rent a car. Sunny Cars is your carefree rental company. All necessary insurances are covered and included in your rental price. So buckle up and book your ticket to ultimate travel freedom.

  • Walking into one of the izakayas (Japanese pubs) can be a little intimadating, especially if it’s your first time in Japan. With the help of a local foodie guide, the world of izakayas will open up to you in no time. Book your activities via Get Your Guide and Viator. Enjoy the must-try dishes and drinks – itadakimasu and kanpai!

  • Sometimes you need to unplug from the hustle and bustle life and reconnect with nature. Start your escape today by finding your secluded cabin in the woods, idyllic cottages by the water or sustainable tiny house on Natuurhuisje. Using this link you’ll receive Euro 10 discount on your booking.

  • When you’re planning to travel outside the Netherlands, you may need to be vaccinated against some of the serious diseases found in other parts of the world. For all your travel vaccinations, please contact Thuisvaccinatie for an appointment between four to six weeks before departure. Vaccinations will be administered by a specialist in the comfort of your home.

  • For international payments I recommend to use Wise instead of a bank or PayPal to avoid unnecessary high transfer and conversion fees.

When you use one of the curated affiliate links, I receive a referral commission without any extra cost for you. 

Forests, the lungs of the earth

Forests contain the overwhelming majority of life on Earth, including a staggering 80% of the planet’s terrestrial species. We depend on forests for our survival but tend to take forests for granted. To help things get better for woodlands, planting new trees is good. Saving existing and mature forests is better and a crucial part of our planet’s long-term health.

Travelling is an essential part of my life. The trips I’ve taken, have helped to shape me into the person I’m today. As a huge supporter of sustainable tourism and nature conservation I want to do my part in protecting the planet while still seeing the world.

Besides travelling more environmentally conscious, I offset my carbon footprint through forest conservation. For each trip booked and for each expat guided I donate Euro 15 to The Forest Project. I can’t wait to adopt a plot of forest in the Netherlands by the end of 2021. Every tree counts. Together we contribute to a better climate, more biodiversity and better living conditions.

Travelling is seeing in Japan

Take an Evening Walk in Gion, Kyoto, where a local guide shows you that extra bit more. This traditional neighbourhood in Kyoto reveals the ever-mysterious and still lively world of the geikos (geishas). You listen to stories about their strict upbringing and why they choose to follow that lifestyle. When you’re lucky, an actual geiko or maiko (a geiko-in-training) will glide past you in her colourful kimono on her way to an appointment in an ochaya (teahouse). An unusual sighting that gives you a glimpse into a culture that is typically closed off to outsiders.

Tip

Ever watched the movie Memoirs of a Geisha? On your walking tour of Kyoto you’ll see those same locations: the Gion district, Fushimi-Inari Shrine, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Kiyomizudera temple and Heian-Jingu shrine.