Oh the joy of traveling! And what a joy it is to meet new friends and learn everything you can about the people, culture, and history of the destination you’re visiting. Recently, I had the fortune of meeting Sacha, a student in the Neatherlands. She was gracious enough to allow me to interview her about her travel adventures. See for yourself how you can be a local “Dutch” as told by a Dutch. Then head over to Instagram and follow her incredible journeys @dutchgirltravels or www.instagram.com/dutchgirltravels/.

Up Up and a Bear: Please tell us a little bit about yourself: where you’re from, your aspirations in life, or anything else you’d like to share.

@dutchgirltravels: Hi, my name is Sacha, I’ve just turned 22 and I am an economics student. I was born and raised in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Besides studying and working, I have three huge passions. Those are fashion, fitness and traveling.

Up Up and a Bear: Very nice to meet you Sacha. The Netherlands is definitely on my travel bucket list. Wherever I go, I like to do a mix of touristy things and some “local” things. What would be the top 5 things I should do to feel like a local?

@dutchgirltravels: First of all, I can recommend anyone to travel to the Netherlands! There is something for everyone to see and do. For my personal top 5:

  1. If you visit Utrecht and you want to have a beautiful view of Utrecht and see the Domtower at the same time, go to the department store V&D. Take the escalator or elevator to the top floor, grab a cup of coffee or a delicious lunch and find a free seat near one of the windows. You’ll be amazed. 🙂
  2. If you love a good party, Utrecht is the place to be. Since there are a lot of students, bars and clubs are never far away. Are you a techno/house/trance lover? Try Poema-Raw or Basis.
  3. This one goes for pretty much every city in the Netherlands. Rent a bike. You can see a lot in a short time and you can blend in like a local.
  4. You can’t leave without trying some of the local food. You could be adventurous and try Haring, but a safer bet would be to try a kroket. What is that? When you are in Amsterdam, head to the Eetsalon van Dobben, which is located at the Rembrandtplein, and find out. 😀
  5. When the weather allows, go to one of the parks. We “locals” like to have a picnic or bring some beer/wine and just socialize in the park. Avoid the Vondelpark, as it can be crowded and touristic, go instead to the Rembrandtpark or Beatrixpark (all in Amsterdam).

Up Up and a Bear: I heard there’s a 1 to 1 ratio between people and bicycle in the Netherlands. Is that true? Do you have a bike?

@dutchgirltravels: Haha good one. Actually, I think this might be true. It is super easy to explore the Netherlands by bike, because the infrastructure is built around people that bike and distances are relatively short. I’m quite embarrassed to admit that I do not own a bike myself. I love to drive my scooter (maybe I live in the wrong country?).

Up Up and a Bear: Hah! Even I have a bike, which I never use, but I do have one. Seattle weather isn’t normally good for biking, except for the beautiful summer. Let’s talk about your travel adventures. How many countries/destinations have you been to so far?

@dutchgirltravels: Many people don’t know this, but I only started traveling pretty recently. When I was younger, I always went on holiday with my parents, mainly to France and Italy. Of course, I traveled a few times with friends, but it was only 2 years ago that I decided I wanted to do much more traveling and that I began thinking more seriously about solo traveling. So far I’ve visited 16 countries.

Up Up and a Bear: Which one has been your favorite and why?

@dutchgirltravels: My absolute favorite trip has been New York! I was there about a month ago and I just fell in love with the city. I love nature and beaches, but ever since I was little I have been kind of obsessed with “life in the big cities.” It was a dream come true for sure. The reason I loved New York so much is that it offered me everything that I’m interested in: architecture, good food, interesting cultures, and most of all, the people were super friendly.

Up Up and a Bear: What’s your most memorable travel moment so far?

@dutchgirltravels: My most memorable travel moment doesn’t have that much to do with travel itself, but on the other hand maybe it does. When I was in New York, I saw my aunt again for the first time in over 15 years. I live in the Netherlands, many years ago my aunt moved to Canada. She bought a vineyard and makes her own wine. We talk to each other online every now and then when I found out she was also going to NYC. Travel brings people together, in my case quite literally. 🙂

Up Up and a Bear: Traveling brings people together and strengthen relationships! I truly believe that. What’s on your travel bucket list for the next 2 years?

@dutchgirltravels: I don’t have too many travel plans that are fixed yet. I will be celebrating New Years in Prague. On top of my travel bucket list are Brazil, Argentina and South Africa. If I graduate next year, I will make this happen for sure! Other bucket list destinations include Thailand, Dubai and a road trip through Central-America.

Up Up and a Bear: We should talk later about Thailand. I love traveling because I love to learn new things that I could apply to my own life. For example, I took a meditation class with a Zen Buddhist master in Japan that totally changed my thinking about happiness and relaxation. As a result, I’m making it a practice to meditate at least 20 minutes a day. What, if anything, have you taken away from your travels?

@dutchgirltravels: Travel has meant a lot to me. I used to be a very shy, introvert person with few friends. Traveling, and in particular solo traveling, has made me a much more open person. I have met so many awesome people along the way. I wouldn’t have want to miss that!

Up Up and a Bear: Just like how traveling brought us together. If you had to convince someone to start traveling, what would you say?

@dutchgirltravels: Just go! I know it can be scary, but you’ll regret it much more if you didn’t explore all the beauty that this world has. There’s a travel destination for everyone, no matter what you like to see/do/experience.

On my Instagram page, I hope to inspire people to travel, especially young, female travelers, because I’ve heard from so many girls who want to travel but don’t receive much support and/or are scared to take that step. I love traveling solo, but because I’m a student, I don’t have a big budget. I want to show that you shouldn’t let that be an obstacle if you really want to see the world!

Up Up and a Bear: Sacha, it has been my pleasure and honor to talk to you. I am just so blessed to meet so many wonderful people like yourself while doing what I love: travel.

Below are a few excellent shots from Sacha’s travels. She is absolutely inspiring and wonderfully friendly. Come check her out on Instagram at www.instagram.com/dutchgirltravels/ or @dutchgirltravels within the app itself. If you’re not confident traveling alone, Sacha can offer some great tips to get you going!