Travel Blogger Tell All – The Travel Tester

Ø Who are you?

Hi! I’m Nienke [pronounced Neen-K-Uh] and I’m a Dutchie living in London.

Ø Where are you from/Where’s home?

My home is Amsterdam. Even though I lived in Sydney for 2 years and now almost 1 year in London, I keep coming back to Holland. Good cheese, you know.

Ø What type of traveller are you? Backpacker, full time traveller, luxury traveller?

I started as a solo traveller in 2006, then moved to a couple traveller in 2008 and an expat in 2011. Whenever we go on a trip, we like some comfort and good food, but I was born as a camper and lure my boyfriend into uncomfortable tents and the back of cars as much as I can.

Ø Where was the first trip you took?

After a few camping trips in Europe as a toddler, the first trip that I can remember myself was when our family moved to St. Martin for my dad’s work as an archaeologist. It was one big adventure for me and my little brother. There were pelicans and goats in the wild, we could eat spare-ribs on the beach and ice-cream was necessary to survive the heat. Need I say more?

Ø Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?

Sure, there is always something that happens on the road that you haven’t planned, but you just have to move on and deal with it. Luckily I never really felt unsafe or had anything stolen. I do seem to leave my clothes behind by accident everywhere I go, slightly annoying.

Ø Do you have any funny or crazy travel stories?

I always seem to attract crazy wildlife. I’ve had a dingo eat my tent and met a 2 meter long shark while snorkelling in Australia, got a head-bump from a bull’s horns in India, had bats terrorize me at night by dropping fruit from the tree above my hut on the roof in Fiji, found a python under my breakfast table and a frog in my bed in South-East Asia. As you do while travelling, right?

Ø What is the worst place you’ve travelled to and why?

I don’t share much of the excitement over India as most people do. I guess I never expected travelling here would take so much energy. You don’t realize that you’re pretty much Brad and Angelina there and you have to pose for about 30 photos a day, get stared at a lot and everyone wants to talk to you. Or hates you and throws stones at you, which happened twice out of nowhere. I’m someone that’s very much to myself, so I really found it hard to deal with all the attention sometimes. One day we just locked ourselves in our hotel room just to avoid everyone and recharge a bit, that helped a lot and we appreciated things more after that.

Ø Where is your favourite place in the world?

I am a huge Japan fan. I just love how the country feels so familiar, yet at the same time everything is completely different to anything you’ve ever seen. I’ve learned some Japanese and can’t wait to go back for my 6th time!

Ø How do you fund your travels?

Working hard, spending less on material things (clothing etc.) and saving as much as you can. And my parents are always there when I need them in emergencies, they are fantastic.

Ø What is your most fond memory from your travels?

The moment when I reached the Annapurna Base Camp at 4130 meter in Nepal. I am not a fit person at all and yet I did this all by myself. And with a bit of patience from my boyfriend and our guide listening to all my cursing along the way, haha.

Ø What would you be doing if you weren’t travelling?

I am trained as a primary school teacher, so probably that. But not travelling at all? Impossible.

Ø Have you ever experiences any cultural faux pas?

Few, probably, although I probably wasn’t aware of it!

Ø What is your Favourite airline?

I loved flying with Singapore airlines, very nice people and food! Although these days I fly so much with budget airlines, that anywhere where I get free food & a smile feels like a major improvement!

Ø Where are you off to next?

I’m visiting family and friends a couple of times in Holland, will be speaking at two travel blogger conferences in Nantes (France) and Rimini (Italy) and will be exploring Malta, Athens and Sri Lanka as part of blogger campaigns and conferences too this year. And in between all that, I’m trying to get my passport renewed, which is a total pain!


Ø What is the name of your travel blog and why did you choose this name?

“The Travel Tester”. I used to work as a travel agent in Sydney and got to go on all this ‘famil’ trips where you try the product yourself to sell it better to your customers. But it’s also referring to my grandfather, who used to write books on lightweight camping, survival in the wild and all of that. I cannot remember a time where we didn’t have a quirky piece of new travel gear to test. I guest I was born a Travel Tester.

Ø When did you start blogging?

When I first started travelling solo in 2006, I opened a blogger account and hosted many travel blogs there over the years. But in 2011 I wanted a more professional site, so I went to WordPress and started all over again.

Ø Where did you start blogging?

My first ever blog was in Tokyo, as the start of my 4 month trip through Japan and Australia. I updated it almost every day then, can you believe that?

Ø Why did you start a Travel blog?

Mostly for family and friends, but I soon got emails from perfect strangers saying they thought my stories were hilarious and they were following my travel tips. Then I knew that I should stick with it and help others prepare their trips too.

Ø What are you tips for new Travel Bloggers?

Love what you do. A LOT. Because if you want to become a professional travel blogger, you will talk, think, eat, sleep and dream about your blog non-stop for the rest of your life.

Ø Do you wish you did differently when you started out?

I wish I’d gone WordPress, 2 languages (Dutch & English) and put all my travel content onto 1 blog instead of a couple different ones right from the start.

Ø What has been your most successful blog post and what was it about?

I focus a lot on Pinterest and two of my most popular posts there are about Ireland. One is about tips of what to do in Dublin for 1 day and the other is about exploring the south-west of Ireland. Other than that my street-art posts and recommendations on other travel bloggers on social media always do very well. I love to see how people clearly like to be inspired about travel!

Ø What do you do to help make your articles successful?

I don’t have a specific strategy, but promoting the articles as much as possible is key to getting your work seen. To do that, I collaborate with other bloggers and use different social media. Pinterest works best for me, so I always make sure my posts are easy to pin for others, by adding the ‘pin-it’ button, a widget and a ‘pinnable’ vertical image with text on it to my articles.

Ø What social media platform is the most helpful for you and why?

Definitely Pinterest. It’s my number 1 traffic source! I love the visual aspect of it and that people are actively looking for things they like on this platform. All ‘Pins’ are linked to the original source, so it’s perfect for bloggers to upload their articles there. My best tip for bloggers would be to only upload vertical, pretty images that have a clear Call To Action on it, optimise for keywords in descriptions and to use the power of group boards.

Ø Have you worked with any “big name” sponsors, if not who would be your dream to work with?

I’m very happy to have worked with a couple of destinations so soon into my ‘blogging career’. I was able to visit Canada, Finland, many places in Italy and Germany. I even had to turn some pretty amazing trips down, as I just don’t have time for it. My dream is to still work with the British Tourism Board in setting up a campaign that my dad and I have been thinking about. We would love to do a UK road trip in his oldtimer MG car, going past historical landmarks and supporting local businesses.

Ø Do you have any tips for new bloggers who want to work with sponsors?

If you’re pitching: come up with a unique campaign instead just telling them that you would like to visit that place. What makes it worth their time? If you are working with them already: be professional. Deliver what you promise, even more if you can. Send thank you notes and be the face of that destination/company. Be as polite and work as hard as you can. Not just for yourself, but for the entire blogging community.

Ø Which travel bloggers do you admire?

That is a pretty long list! I have learned so much from other bloggers, it’s incredible. The blogging community feels like family and without meeting many of them in person I wouldn’t be where I am now. They taught me a lot about the business of blogging, but they are also amazing people with a shared passion for travel. I feel very lucky to be a part of it.

Ø Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?

Networking has been a bit part of improving my blog and getting opportunities. Don’t be shy, ask for help and introduce yourself at blogger events, conferences, trade shows and anywhere else travel/blogging related. Make connections and save those contacts, because all of them will come back to you in some way or the other. Enjoy!

Ø What is your Travel Motto?

This quote by Paulo Coelho: “You know that you are close to the Meaning of Life when you are full of Enthusiasm, when you do things with Love”.

Website url:
Google+ profile:

Samantha - Travelling King
Follow me

Samantha - Travelling King

Hi, my name is Samantha, Finance Managing Guru by day, Travel Blogging Enthusiast by... well... day too! Haha! Travelling King is the destination hotspot for the wannabe traveller! Showcasing affordable, luxurious getaways for the budget conscious!

With the combination of my financial knowledge and travelling experiences I aim to show you, with a little planning, the right budget and a realistic goal you can fulfil your travel fantasies and explore the world whatever your budget or desires may be!
Samantha - Travelling King
Follow me


  1. 13 August, 2014 / 11:59 am

    As an Indian,I am sorry that you had unpleasant experiences while travelling in my country. India is a beautiful country ,it just needs a little travel planning .Metro cities like Mumbai will pretty much leave you alone but in smaller towns,you might attract attention.Sorry you got offended.
    On my last trip to China,I had a few unpleasant experiences with locals but I can not write China off .I planned my next trip well to China and had a wonderful time .
    Hope some day I can be of help to make you feel nice about India.Take care and keep travelling 🙂

    • 13 August, 2014 / 6:21 pm

      Hi Sharmila,
      Thanks so much for your nice comment! I definitely think India is a beautiful country, but I guess I underestimated how much energy travelling costs me personally and how much attention we got. We just didn’t take enough time to see everything we wanted (only 3 weeks in Rajasthan), so that was a big part of why we felt a bit frustrated, totally our own fault! But we definitely had a memorable trip!! We met some great people that were genuinely interested and also many other travellers that we still are in contact with. I loved seeing all the old buildings like forts and markets, there is just so much to see, you really need time to process it all, right? I’ve never been to China before, but I can see why it would be a challenge too, I’ve travelled quite a lot in Asia and have had some great and not so great experiences in every country. But that’s alright, as we learn from that, right? I wish you all the best!

  2. 19 August, 2014 / 10:28 pm

    Great interview! Love reading Nienke’s blog and it’s nice to read a bit more about her.