First time travelling to The Netherlands

Welcome to The Netherlands, your new home for the next few days, weeks, months or maybe even for years to come. When you’re going to a new country, you will be in need of a helping hand. Look no further, we have the guide for you to make a start in The Netherlands! The top 4 things one usually looks for first in a country is how to travel in that country, forms of paying, accommodations, food and entertainment. We have the guide for you to survive and have an adventure.

Travelling in The Netherlands

Car

First things first, your arrival in The Netherlands. If you are travelling by car all you need is to set up your navigation system, you can also take a taxi. Just google Taxi and the city you are in, and there will be many options to choose from. If you already have Uber or another type of ride-sharing app, you will be able to get a ride through the applications. If you have your own car or a rental, make sure you download an app that will make paying for parking easy. A few examples; Parkmobile, Smsparkeren, Yellowbrick etc.

Public Transport

Another form of travelling in The Netherlands is by public transportation. The Netherlands has a very efficient public transportation all over the country. It is easy to get anywhere with the tram (streetcar/cable car), metro (subway/tube), bus, train and ferry. The public transport is very well connected and it will facilitate your travelling across the country or even take you to other neighbouring countries. 

If you’re travelling with the OV (Openbaar Vervoer, translates to Public Transportation) you will need an OV chip card which you can top up with credit. If you’re going to register at the municipality, then it is best to acquire a Personal OV chipcard, only available online. If you’re not going to register and you’re only staying for a couple of days, weeks or months, it is best that you get an Anonymous OV-card (€7,50, 2019), available online, airports, convenience shops and supermarkets, or at any public transport station or counter. If you’re interested in knowing more about the types of OV chip cards, click here

Besides the personal and anonymous OV chip cards, you can also buy tickets at stations or at any OV provider, for example, trams and busses RET in Rotterdam, GVB in Amsterdam, HTM in The Hague etc. Each region has its own public transit for tram, metro and or bus. However, buying a ticket every time is more expensive: There are limited options depending on which city you are in, for example, 1 and 2-hour tickets, or day cards. These can be used on the tram, metro and bus. For the train, you will have to buy a separate one. 

When you enter your means of transport, you have to check-in and when you leave check-out again even if you’re changing to another means of transport. Make sure you always buy a ticket and to check-in, otherwise you risk being fined. You can buy a ticket in the tram at the conductor and on the bus, you can buy a ticket at the chauffeur. 

Train

The train is a national train transit network called NS. You can buy tickets online, at the train stations or you can top up your OV card and check-in at the train station. If you are going to another country by train (other transit systems) make sure you buy a ticket far in advance. 

Transit App

The go-to app or website for any travelling in The Netherlands is 9292. You can plan your trip without having to think of what means of transportation you need to use. 9292 gives different options and you can choose with what means you prefer to travel with, for example, if you only want to travel by metro and tram or bus and train, 9292 will only give you those routes with these means of transportation unless this is not possible.

Bike

If you’re in The Netherlands for months or years, it is a good idea to buy a bicycle, they are not that expensive and are an easy and affordable way to navigate through the city. You can also rent a bike at NS or bike-sharing applications. Be aware that you are not allowed to take your bike in trams or buses. They are allowed on the train and metro’s but at an additional cost. If you don’t buy a ticket for the bike, then you’ll risk getting a fine. 

Forms of payment in The Netherlands

For the means of payment in The Netherlands, you can choose for cash money, debit card or credit card (visa/master etc.). Please do keep in mind that not all stores accept all these means of payment. In fact, most stores do not accept credit cards like supermarkets. Restaurants, hotels and tourist destinations usually accept credit cards. However, this can be different from shop to shop even when you visit the same chain. The differences can be from city to city or even if they are only a few blocks apart from each other. For more information regarding money in The Netherlands, click here. 

Online there are more options. The most used mean of payment online is iDeal (direct transfers), which is only available with a Dutch debit card. For more information on debit cards and how to get one visit iamexpat. Other online means of payment are Visa and Master credit card, PayPal and AfterPay and KLARNA (direct transfer, post-payment). 

Food

The Netherlands is a multicultural society, with over 175 nationalities in Rotterdam and over 180 nationalities in Amsterdam. This means that there is an abundance of multicultural food. If there is not a restaurant that represents a country then there will be shops that sell the ingredients to make typical food from their country.

The Netherlands also has typical foods that you can’t separate from the country. The following are classic Dutch grub:

  • One of the most famous ones is herring. This is a type of fish that is served with onions and gherkins. You eat it raw and you hold it from the tail and drop it in your mouth for a bite. 
  • Stroopwafels

    Another Dutch delight is the stroopwafel is a type of cookie. It is a waffle made from baked batter, two layers of waffles are filled with sweet and sticky syrup in between.

  • Kroket is a deep-fried roll with ragout inside covered with breadcrumbs. There are various types of krokets with meat and without meat. Bitterballen are a type of kroket but in bite sizes. 
  • Patat/Friet aka french fries, everybody likes a portion of patat often served in a paper cone. You always eat patat with one or several sauces, for example, mayonnaise, ketchup, curry, peanut sauce and sometimes with chopped raw onions on top. Patat with peanut sauce is referred to as ‘patatje oorlog’ translates to fries at war.
  • Dutch pancakes, pannekoeken, are thin and served with stroop (a type of syrup). Poffertjes are like miniature pancakes served with butter and a lot of powdered sugar. 
  • The drop known as liquorice is a candy that is not for everyone. The dutch grow up with it and since there are a lot of different flavours and bag sizes there is something for every dutchie maybe even for you.
  • Cheese, if you don’t like cheese in The Netherlands and you have lived here since a young age people will say ‘’are you even dutch if you don’t like cheese?’’.  Cheese is a staple in the dutch culture. On a slice of bread, a snack, cheese fondue or cheese souffle. We work it into breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between snacks.
  • Hagelslag is a sprinkle spread for on a slice of bread with butter.
  • Oliebollen

    Oliebollen, a Dutch version of a doughnut. These oliebollen are mostly made and served during the winter and are a traditional New Year's Eve treat. 

  • Rookworst is a smoked sausage and is eaten often with a stampot or erwtensoepErwtensoep is a thick pea soup eaten mostly in the winter and stampot is a dish consisting of mashed potatoes mixed with mostly kale but does not stop there. Other vegetables that can be used are carrots, spinach, sauerkraut etc.

Entertainment

When it comes to entertainment in The Netherlands there is plenty to do. It is easy to travel to other cities so you can go and explore other cities or visit museums, go on the water/canals, visit old towns with a lot of windmills, or cheese market to try out some cheese. 

Keukenhof

One attraction that everyone must visit at least once is the Keukenhof also known as Europe’s garden for its blooming tulips. The Keukenhof is only open in the spring season from around March 21 to May 10 of every year. Have a Dutch Heineken beer at the Heineken Experience etc. Check out thecrazytourist for more tips or just look up a few websites on Google. Check out Iamexpat for more information on what to do in The Netherlands. There is always something to do in The Netherlands. Make sure you research online so you don’t miss out on anything!

Accommodations

If you are staying in The Netherlands for a short period, 4 nights or less, then maybe a hotel would suit you better since you won't be spending much time inside. There are many websites which give you an overview of all types of hotels, like the booking.com or Trivago. Airbnb is also an option if you're travelling by yourself or in a group.

If you are staying for an extended period, either for work or lifestyle, we advise you to go for a serviced apartment since you won’t spend all your time outside. A serviced apartment can make you feel more at home as it has a fully equipped kitchen, is more spacious, has housekeeping services and laundry service or a washing machine in the apartment itself. 

Serviced Apartment

There are studio serviced apartments, one, two or even three-bedroom serviced apartments. Perfect if you’re travelling with your family or in groups. Depending on your needs and wishes, you are able to choose from serviced apartments,  aparthotel, serviced apartments in residential buildings, and corporate housing. Also, if you're coming to live in The Netherlands and you haven't found a residence yet, a serviced apartment is also a good option for temporary accommodation in the meanwhile that you're searching for your permanent home.  For more information on the differences between these serviced apartments check out the Types of serviced accommodations blog. 

If you're planning on coming to the Netherlands and would rather prefer to stay in a serviced apartment, send us an inquiry!

Now that you have this information in your hands you can go out into The Netherlands explore and take on a new adventure!! The best of luck to you all! And when in doubt, always ask the locals, they are always willing to help you out!

 

By Naziha Bentouhami

 

Sources:

Payment Methods, Paymentwall.com

Public Transport, Wanderlustingk.com

Dutch food, Amsterdamtourist.com

25 Best things in The Netherlands, Thecrazytourist.com

Lifestyle, Iamexpat.nl


How to make your serviced apartment feel more like home

Although serviced apartments feel more homely than the usual hotel rooms, there is no place like your home…. If you're someone who is constantly on the road, whether for lifestyle or work, coming home to a serviced apartment that feels like your home, will make you feel more relaxed and less stressed. This, in turn, will benefit you the next day to feel more energised to go about your day. These tips will help make your serviced apartment feel more like your home. With these tips, you can create a nice environment in your serviced apartment whether you’re staying for a couple of weeks or months on end.

Scent

The scent is very important and can make you feel right at home. If you use specific scented candles at home, try finding them in a smaller size and bring it along with you. Preferably tea light candles for their lightweight and size. For some nice scented candles click here. If you use incense sticks, it is even less of a hassle to bring them along with you as they weigh practically nothing. However, be aware that wax candles are allowed to be stored in a checked suitcase or overhead luggage, but gel candles are only allowed in checked suitcases.

Photo by Stéfano Girardelli on Unsplash

If you use laundry washing powder at home for your clothes you can put some in a Ziploc bag. Hang it up in the closet so you can be greeted by the smell every time you open the closet. If you use a liquid, bring some in a travel size bottle spray mixed with water. Even if you use laundry service you can spray your clothes and sheets with it for that familiar freshly washed clothes scent. 

Unpack

A common trait business travellers tend to do is living out of their suitcases. Our tip: hang up your clothes, it is nicer and feels more like you are at home than living out of a suitcase. Yes, it takes time to unpack and pack again, however, you will waste less time looking for your items in your suitcase and you will have a good overview of your clothes. 

The same applies to your toiletries. Getting ready and every time grabbing everything out of your toiletry bag is less efficient. Take your time, unpack your toiletries and make the bathroom your own sanctuary. After that, put your toiletry bag in your suitcase and store both at a place you don’t see. Seeing them will remind you every time that you are not home and that it’s temporary.

Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash

Coffee or Tea

There is nothing like waking up in the morning and having your favourite cup of coffee or tea. So pack your own coffee or tea! Depending on how long your stay is, if you have a short stay, don’t bring the whole package, that will only take up space. Put some of the tea in a ziplock bag. For coffee, use two ziplock bags so the rest of your items in your suitcase don’t smell like it.

Snacks

Buy some snacks that you eat back at home or bring some from home. If your taste in snacks is more general, go to a supermarket near your serviced apartment and get some of your favourites. A simple thing as enjoying a snack can make you feel at home.

Photo by Craig Adderly from Pexels

Sleep comfort 

If you are not travelling to a tropical destination, bring your own blanket, a small one will do for the cold days or to cover up with at night. If you cannot afford the space, try packing it in an airtight plastic bag. Still, don’t have enough space? Then at least bring your own pillowcase. 

Pictures

Bring pictures of your loved ones. No frame is needed, just print the pictures and put them between your documents or clothes while travelling. They will arrive at your destination without a crease. Put them close to the door so you will be greeted by them when you enter your serviced apartment after a long day at work. 

Alexa or Google home

Love Alexa or your Google home? Bring them along. There are smaller sizes available and if you are used to waking up with them telling you the local news etc. then why not bring them as your travel companion?

Photo by BENCE BOROS on Unsplash

Greenery

Depending on the length of your stay. If you are used to a green environment in your home, buy yourself some flowers or plants. Not only do they look and smell good, but they also purify the air for you. 

Photo by Chitokan from Pexels

This blog has shown you how you can make your serviced apartment, smell, feel and even taste like your home with your favourite snacks and a cup of coffee. We at Short Stay Citizens always want our clients to feel right at home at their serviced apartment. We hope that these tips will help you settle down in your home away from home. If not, feel free to contact us and we will see what we can do to fulfil your needs.

By Leticia Cardoso

Sources: 

Mentalfloss.com, 2019

Amber C. Snider, Culture trip, 2018

 


Global Nomads vs. Tourists

People are travelling around the world to explore, learn and enjoy new places, cultures, languages, for their own personal growth. Everyone travels in their own way, whether that is by getting a hotel, an apartment, a room, or with a camper. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to travelling and how they will be spending their time in the city or country. 

There are two differences made when it comes to the people travelling, namely, the tourist and the global nomad. Well, at least global nomads make that distinction themselves.

Global Nomads

Global nomads have the desire to connect with the country.

Global nomads like and want to be called a global nomad, global citizen, traveller or if they are backpacking a backpacker. For now, we’ll just be using the word, global nomad.

A global nomad is someone who is well travelled. They travel frequently, usually for an extended period, and have the desire to connect with the country. They stay at local accommodations, join locals in their daily routine, connect with local educators, professionals and community members to learn firsthand about their culture, history and language. They want to learn and grow from their experience in another country and take what they have learned and share that with their community, whether that is back at home or online. They want to know how locals live their lives. Global nomads want to meet people in their homes, have authentic meals and contribute to their community in any way possible. A global nomad will do some research into the country before going and will even learn a few phrases to show their gratitude. For example, greetings, thank you’s and how to address someone. 

Tourists

Tourists often don't stray too far from the hotel.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, the definition of a tourist is: ‘’someone who visits a place for pleasure and interest, usually on a holiday.’’ In addition, a tourist does not travel frequently and travels mostly during the holidays. They often travel to a city or country that can offer them something special that their country or city can’t offer, for example, good weather or beaches. They will mostly stay in the hotel and will not stray too far from it. Tourists usually stay in the city centre, join in activities offered by the hotel and visit the hotspots. A tourist will want all the comforts they have at home available in other countries, including food. A tourist will visit restaurants with a familiar menu or dine at the hotel. 

 

 

At the end of the day, we all want to visit new places, explore, learn and enjoy ourselves. The only difference is how we do it. What works for you might not work for another and we should not shame one another for that. Just remember the next time you are travelling, whether as a tourist or a global nomad, we all want to have an amazing experience! 

 

 

By Naziha Bentouhami 

 

Sources:

Cambridge Dictionary

Nicola Balmain, Nanda Journeys 

 


Make a Big Impact with a Small Commitment

As a global nomad or a business traveller that is always on the road, it is difficult to find time to maintain a healthy work-life balance and simultaneously give back to the community. Most of the charity projects require quite long-time commitment since the usual duration of projects can vary from 2 and up to 4 weeks of consistent dedication. To avoid the registration hassle and high sign-up fees, consider opportunities for an amazing concept: micro-volunteering.

Micro-volunteering offers opportunities that are cost-free and have little to no commitment. It allows volunteers to contribute to various causes on the spot and there are no commitment boundaries.

The demand for flexible short-term volunteering opportunities is on the rise because more and more people are leading a busy, unpredictable and global-nomadic lifestyle. During your work travels, micro-volunteering would be a great opportunity to explore the neighbourhood, community and culture. It offers great flexibility and a chance to explore various volunteer projects to discover what you like best. A great way to get involved would be volunteering at a local homeless shelter, food bank or any other local community centres. In the Netherlands, there is a platform NL Voor Elkaar which provides various volunteering options that are possible for one time only volunteering experience. The concept of micro-volunteering is known world-wide and there are other platforms that promote various causes such as Speed Volunteer in London or Cause Corps with various short-term volunteering openings all around the world.

What makes this concept even more special, is the fact that it is also possible to help the world online. For instance, an online volunteering act would be online sponsorship, crowdfunding, providing feedback, filling in a survey and much more. It requires minimum effort, however every small contribution matters.

No matter the setting, everyone should explore volunteering opportunities that the world is offering. Remember, each contribution counts and it will definitely make a difference!

Are you planning your next business or leisure trip? Contact Short Stay Citizens and reserve your next accommodation with us! Need additional information about any accommodation location? Contact us and we'll be glad to help you!

 

By Polina Zavyalova

Sources :

Charlotte Jones, The Guardian

Anna Patton, Mission Box

 


Cultural Differences while Travelling

In the beginning, travelling abroad and leaving a familiar place behind seems to be scary, but then the excitement of unknown kicks in. This new sense of energy gives you the illusion that you are invincible. However, do not let this feeling cloud your judgement! What may seem normal to you, can be completely out of the ordinary to others- especially to people from different cultural backgrounds. Here are some tips on how to be respectful while travelling.

Hand gestures 

We’ve all been there, making weird signs and miming short sentences as if we are playing charades. Hand gestures always come in handy when you are visiting a new country or a city where a language barrier is present. This non-verbal communication might not be so precise, but it will still get your message across. Only, it is important to note that most cultures embrace different meanings and symbolism to gestures. An innocent gesture like scratching your chin can deeply offend an Italian. Another misinterpretation would be the ‘V’ sign that is expressed by most countries with a palm faced either outwards or inwards which indicates peace or victory. Conversely, if the palm is faced inwards it could be offensive to an Australian and a Brit since this gesture is equivalent to a middle finger. In Brazil, tapping under your jaw means: ‘It’s not true, just gossip’, whereas an Eastern European would interpret this gesture as: ‘Let’s get a drink’. Therefore, before visiting a new country, study the culture briefly and remember the basic facts with useful tips.

Personal space

How close is too close or too far to be considered rude? The concept of personal space is dependent on the country and the relationship you have with the person. Based on a conducted study by the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, residents of Argentina, Peru and Bulgaria stand the closest to strangers. On the other hand, Romania, Hungary and Saudi Arabia keep the most distance to keep their ‘personal bubble’ intact. Nevertheless, this all changes based on a type of relationship you have with a resident of the country. The closer the relationship, the smaller the personal bubble. So before you get tensed up about the amount of space between you and the other person, think of their cultural background and the type of relationship you have with them.

Tips to keep in mind

  1. Gum-free Since the 1990s, Singapore is a gum-free zone, unless it is used for medical reasons. It is permitted to bring two packs per person, violation of this regulation can result in a one-year prison sentence and a $5,500 fine.
  2. Eating with a cap. In Southern Europe, it is considered rude to eat with a cap/hat on indoors.
  3. Toilet regulations. Toilets come in different forms around the world. In Western cultures it is normal to sit on the toilet seat, however, in several countries such as in Japan and the Middle East, it is a norm to squat on the toilet seat. Moreover, in countries like in Africa, South America and Asia it is not common to flush toilet paper down the toilet.
  4. Drinking. In an Eastern European household, your drink (especially alcoholic beverages) would be automatically refilled by the host. It is considered rude to leave your guest with an empty glass.
  5. Tipping. Each country has its own regulation regarding tipping, usually, 10% is expected when it comes to restaurant service. However, some restaurants automatically include a fee to the bill. In Italy, this is indicated by coperto or servizio.
  6. Saying hello. For some countries just saying the word hello, is not enough for a greeting. The French and Italians follow up a greeting with two kisses on the cheek, whereas the Dutch do it with three. Other forms of saying hello around the world would be bowing, sticking your tongue out, handshake etc.
  7. Punctuality. Germans are not the only ones that value punctuality. Some cultures consider tardiness a sign of disrespect. However, in some countries like China, arriving within 10 to 15 minutes before the agreed time is considered acceptable. Whereas, in most of Latin, African and Middle Eastern countries, showing up late is considered to be normal and quite common.

Final tip

While travelling, be open-minded, try to learn a thing or two and embrace every culture. Nowadays, the world is extremely integrated and therefore there should not be any culture that is superior to others. Remember these tips, especially when going abroad for business purposes… You do not want to mess up your negotiations.

 

By Polina Zavyalova

Sources:

Herrine Ro, Business Insider

Rebecca Winke, CiuItaly

Carla, Opodo

Batul Nafisa Baxamusa, SocialMettle