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Travel blogger Victor from Victor's Travels here. I've traveled to Antarctica, North Korea, and Venezuela, AMA :-)

Victor Eekhof
Feb 10, 2018

Hi there!

I have visited some odd places like Antarctica, North Korea, and Venezuela, and I am happy to answer any questions you might have about these countries!

I've written about these places on Victor’s Travels, a travel blog curated by me, 30-something Dutch world explorer Victor Eekhof. This blog is all about traveling on your own terms and not following the masses. It’s for people who are happiest with a big backpack on their backs and a smaller one on their front; people who walk where others take a cab, or take a bus where others take a plane.

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What was the most shocking thing about North Korea?

Feb 16, 5:33PM EST0

What's your travel bag like? What are its usual contents? What the essentials and must-haves you can't leave home without when you have to pack light?

Feb 14, 5:54AM EST0

I am the proud owner of an Osprey Nebula backpack (34L, in black) which I carry on my front and an Osprey Fairpoint (40L, in Carribean blue). I like their layouts; they don't feel like big bags, but I can fit a lot in and I can find things without taking everything out. The Nebula backpack can be used as a daypack as it's just the right size not to look too bulky.

When I started traveling, I had a 65L backpack and a 35L backpack, and waaaay too much stuff (23 kilograms of weight just on my back). I had a lot of things with my "just in case". I also had 3 fat lonely planet books with me and some other books to read.

Now, I have everything on a tiny Amazon Kindle which I absolutely love. I used to pack a lot of clothes as well, for very different occasions. Now, I have "invested" in a few nice-looking travel attire which doesn't scream tourist and can be used in many different situations without standing out.

The key for me are  "quick-dry" materials such as merino wool or bamboo, as they will dry over-night, are light, and won't stink.

I travel with my 13-inch Macbook as well. You might say it's a big risk, but I have never had any problems with it when traveling alone. I loved the fact that I could be creative anywhere on the road, and could start making music, doing some writing, watch a movie, edit some photos etc. whenever I had some time (and there is always lots of time when you travel, like waiting for buses, in buses, trains, airports etc.).

One good tip I got from reading The 4-Hour Work Week (highly recommended book) is to bring an emergency fund. Even if it's €200, it means you won't have to bring many things that you would bring "in case something happens". I don't really know what else to tell you so I'll just stop here.

Last edited @ Feb 14, 3:53PM EST.
Feb 14, 3:51PM EST0

As a frequent traveler, you must be shopping for cheap flights all the time, right? Where do you usually get your tickets for cheap?

Feb 13, 11:51PM EST0

I mostly make sure that I book well in advance (2-3 months is perfect) and I look for flights on Skyscanner. I am also subscribed to the Secret Flying newsletter for the latest error fares. It's mostly last-minute stuff, but you can really find ridiculously cheap flights!

Feb 14, 3:30PM EST0

What are your future plans if you spend most of your savings for travel? Do you ever worry that you might not have enough savings left for the rainy days during your later years?

Feb 12, 8:22PM EST0

I guess I'll have to deal with things as they come. I try not to do things "because one should do them that way", for instance in terms of marriage and kids, and this can save you a lot of money already. So I'm planning to just go through life and keep travels in the back of my head whenever I make (financial) decisions. I think they'll be loads of opportunities to travel, as long as you recognize them (or create them). And traveling doesn't have to be expensive at all! yes, the flight might cost more, but living expenses at the destination could end up much lower than back home, and you could make a profit by renting out your place on sites like Airbnb :-)

Feb 14, 3:27PM EST0

How did you manage to go to North Korea? Is the process super difficult and strict?

Feb 12, 8:01PM EST0

It was quite simple, really, I booked a tour and the company organized things like visa's, food, accommodation, and transport. There isn't any other way of doing it at the time, as far as I know. Ther process was easy and didn't take a long time at all. I can imagine it varies per nationality, for instance, the tour company I went with banned American citizens from their tours after a (deadly) incident a little while ago.

Feb 14, 3:22PM EST0

Have you considered writing a book about your travels? And have you considered turning your blog into a book? If so, why or why not?

Feb 12, 4:13PM EST0

Hi Brandy,One of my life goals is to write a book, but I haven't (seriously) given it any thought yet. I figured that I need a lot more content out there first before I can start bundling stuff together. Also, I think there is a lot out there already, so I would have to find a good balance between what I want to tell and what people want to read. So I definitely keep my options open! :-) 

Feb 14, 3:20PM EST0

What’s Antartica weather like? Is it really too cold all year round or did you still see the sun and felt a bit of warmth while you were there?

Feb 12, 10:08AM EST0

At the time I visited it (Dec/Jan) wasn't that cold at all! The tour agency provided me with a thick water/windproof jacket, boots and trousers, but I got quite warm at one point!

The season to visit is from November to March, in the other months of the year it's simply too cold to visit. It was about 0 Celsius to about -10 Celsius when I was there, but the weather is super changeable on Antarctica, and it could easily drop 5/10 degrees in half an hour. The sun also really helped, it was lovely!

Feb 12, 2:58PM EST0

Why choose odd places? Do you enjoy the thrill of taking on the "roads less traveled"? Does it get scary sometimes? What are other places or countries you wish to visit in the future if you had a chance? And what are some places that you've already visited and would love to visit again? (Sorry, too many questions! Super interested about your travels!)

Last edited @ Feb 12, 1:01AM EST.
Feb 12, 1:01AM EST0

Hia Rona!

Let me try to answers all of your questions:

Why choose odd places?

Why not? :-) Every traveler has their own destinations that get them excited, and for me it's visiting places that relatively few people have visited.

Do you enjoy the thrill of taking on the "roads less traveled"? 

Definitely! I love it when am able to get away from the thing "everybody does" and find something else that is more impressive and less known! It fits my personality, I always try to make my own decisions without getting too influenced by others (also I'm stubborn).

What are other places or countries you wish to visit in the future if you had a chance?

This question was asked by another user, let me paste the answer :-)

  • Georgia
  • Iran
  • Norway
  • India (been once, want to go back)
  • Norway (perhaps Svalbard)
  • Also Mexico is on the radar

And what are some places that you've already visited and would love to visit again?

  • As said before, India still has plenty to offer
  • Antarctica, it was such an awesome experience and I would love to visit the continent again
  • South Africa was awesome and cheap to travel in, with still much more to see as well (I did some of the West and South, would love to do the East Coast)
  • Bangkok is always a good pitstop on the way to or from another Asian city, I stayed there last year and was surprised that it wasn't as crazy spoiled as I thought it would be (my last visit was 10 years ago)
Feb 12, 2:49PM EST0

Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking of traveling on his own the same way as you do?

Feb 11, 12:06AM EST0

I guess the best advice I can give is to make your own plans, be open to talk to other travelers and don't believe everything the media/your family/friends back home says about a country! Don't let fear be your guidance and it's rewarding to be naive from time to time.

Feb 11, 4:54AM EST0

Where do you recommend to stay while visiting the Antarctica? How did you manage to stay despite the very, very low temperatures?

Feb 10, 7:44PM EST0

Well, you don't really have much of a choice I'm afraid. You can't stay on any of the scientific bases, as they simply haven't got enough resources. Your only option is to stay on the boat that you booked your trip with. It's usually a luxurious boat (you have small boats or big cruise ships) and the most budget option is to share a cabin with 1 or 2 people.  I didn't have any trouble at all sleeping on the boat, as there was only a small window I could close (it was summer, which means it was light outside 24/7) and there was central heating.

Feb 11, 4:51AM EST0

At what point in your life did you discover your passion for traveling?

Feb 10, 6:28PM EST0

Definitely after my first solo backpacking trip to Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia when I was about 23 years old. It was my first trip out of Europe and it thoroughly broadened my horizon. After coming back from that trip all I could think of was where to go next. I managed to save up enough money in a year to go traveling again for another 7 months, something I repeated a few times after that trip.

Feb 11, 4:46AM EST0

Regarding food in Mongolia: What dishes are the best and why?

Feb 10, 3:17PM EST0

I definitely had some interesting food in Mongolia! The capital Ulaanbataar was a lot more Western than I thought, there were many restaurants and cafés that could easily have been in any Western city. I was hanging out in Cafe Amsterdam a lot, where they had great coffee and baked goods. 

I loved the variety of Russian chocolate you could buy in the supermarkets too!

When I traveled outside Ulanbataar the food definitely got more interesting as well. I stayed in a Ger (see pic) and was served bits of a sheep's leg. Also, I had some yak butter milk tea with some stale bread and a sort of buttery porridge.

The best thing? I remember the sheep's leg being very fresh and a welcome source of carbs to fight the cold.

Feb 11, 4:42AM EST0

Is traveling a hobby for you, or has it become more like a life style? If it hasn’t, would you want it to be a life style?

Feb 10, 2:21PM EST0

Can it be both? I feel like traveling is still a hobby, as hardly any of my trips are sponsored yet. But, it is also a lifestyle, as I have seen a bit of the world and am not ready to stop traveling anywhere soon. I feel like things might change when babies will be born, but I know plenty of people that travel with their kids and are loving it! I think it's all about the mindset: what part does traveling play in your life? For me, it's a passion and a way to step out of the hustle and bustle of the city I live in (Amsterdam, by the way).

Feb 10, 2:46PM EST0

Where do you get all of your funds from in order to travel to another country?

Feb 10, 1:45PM EST0

I wish I could give you a golden tip here, but I simply don't have one... I worked as a marketing employee and project manager for a few years while saving up. When I had enough money, I would quit my job and spend it all on traveling for a period of 6-8 months. In the last few months of my travels I would start looking for a job again, and luckily I mostly managed to find something new or to get a position in the same company again. 

Feb 10, 2:43PM EST1

Is Victor’s Travel an initiative you’d like to keep on until it reaches a respectable reputation as a blog or would prefer to maintain it as your best kept secret?

Feb 10, 10:19AM EST0

Great question! I has been my little secret for a long time (3 out of the 4 years my blog exists) and I would only write on the blog myself. I was struggling to put a "label" on the blog as well that could work commercially; there wasn't much of a common denominator I could find in the stuff I had previously written. Then, I think it was during my last trip when I got a few requests for guest posts, I started to think that I should make my blog more of a platform for people that would like to travel in the style that I do (low-budget, adventurous, visiting lesser-known countries or places). I asked a few travel friends for guest posts and accepted a few guest post requests, and now I try to keep a rotation of writing good content without having to find time for it myself ALL the time. I see my blog growing because of it, so I'm definitely out for more!

Feb 10, 2:40PM EST1

Have you ever been on a trip with someone else? How was it? Is there any difference between solo-traveling and traveling with a companion?

Feb 10, 8:39AM EST0

I have traveled for 6 months with my girlfriend last year, which was the first time I traveled with someone for the whole duration of the trip. I think there is a big difference in traveling solo and with a companion. It's not a question of good and bad, it's just a very different style and dynamic. If you're alone, you're much more open to meeting new people and travel with them; other solo travelers usually don't want to hang out with couples on their trip (even if they are awesome). A big pro of traveling with someone else is that you can always share the amazing moment on your trip. Apart from that, you can also share your frustrations (this is huge, I consider this the biggest downside of traveling solo) and share costs (many costs can be split in two when you're traveling with a companion).

If you travel with your girlfriend or boyfriend (or husband or wife or mistress or cousin) is that you share awesome memories much after your trip, and it's a great feeling to relive these moments by looking at your travel pics together...

Last edited @ Feb 10, 2:34PM EST.
Feb 10, 2:33PM EST0

What has been your greatest experience while traveling? And your worst?

Feb 10, 7:33AM EST0

I feel like my trip to Antarctica was considerably different from anywhere else I have been. The serenity of the ice, calm sea and wildlife was simply breathtaking. 

In terms of worst travel experience: I don't really have an experience that completely ruined a trip for me. Of course, there were frustrations, bribes, and I got held back by 4 Chinese karaoke-ladies, but they were all the kind of crazy experiences I wouldn't want to miss on a trip.

Perhaps the time I got scammed on Tiananmen square in Beijing wasn't that much fun. I (seemingly) nice guy about my age started talking to me, and even though I was a bit wary he seemed nice enough and not pushy in any way. By that time I was used to people approaching me on the street, so I didn't think much of it. I walked with him in the direction I was going to, when he proposed a cup of tea in a random shop we passed. I agreed and we had some nice tea up until the moment when the bill (€100) came. He acted as surprised as I was and said that perhaps it was a special (expensive) tea we choose by accident. Not knowing what to do, and being far to kind/polite, I accepted his offer to split the bill. Obviously, he was working with the people in the shop and I was the only one paying here. I left feeling very confused and even then I didn't want to believe I got scammed, until another person approached me for a cup of tea minutes later....

Feb 10, 2:55PM EST0

How do you market your blog? What social media is best do you think for travel bloggers?

Feb 10, 6:01AM EST0

To be honest, I am struggling with this question myself. I tried Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, but everything seems to get the attention span of about 2 people for 0.5 seconds. I am just not the kind of person to spend day and night on social media making up content to share, so I currently focus almost exclusively on SEO. I believe that this is good as a long-term strategy and it means that I can stay nice and introvert, just the way I like it :-)

Feb 10, 2:22PM EST0

Do you remember the first time you traveled on your own? Where did you go?

Feb 10, 4:31AM EST0

Yes! It was during the financial crisis of 2009 where I couldn't find a job, and people were telling me to go travel with the money I saved up. I resisted at first (fear of the unknown I guess) but then went on a backpacking trip through Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia. I was really involved with couchsurfing at the time, and I was surprised how easy it was to meet travel buddies and people that will host you for free in their houses. I met some awesome people with whom I'm still in touch and it kick-started my passion for travel.

Feb 10, 2:17PM EST0

What are the most beautiful places to visit while being in Venezuela?

Feb 10, 2:25AM EST0

Hmm, I don't think I can answer that question properly as I have only been to Caracas. I heard the Angel falls are stunning!

Feb 10, 2:15PM EST0
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