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Amsterdam: Must-Haves For Your Trip

Amsterdam is ripe with history, culture and excitement. The city has something for everyone, with priceless work of arts and historic architecture coexisting harmoniously alongside coffee shops (marijuana dispensaries) and the red light district.

It is always worth thinking ahead and deciding what to pack for your trip in advance. So, whether you are travelling from within Europe or coming from further afar, make sure you come prepared.

  • I Amsterdam City Card
  • Maestro Card/ Cash
  • Waterproof Clothing 
  • OV-Chip Card
  • Bring Earplugs
  • Backpacks Over Suitcases
  • Comfy Shoes Over Clogs
  • Don’t Forget Your Travel Adaptor
  • Study A Map Of Beforehand
  • Carry ID At All Times

I Amsterdam City Card

 The I Amsterdam City Card offers you a unique way to explore the Dutch capital. The card will give you admittance to the majority of the cities main highlights, including more than 70 museums, public transport, canal cruises, discounted dining and bike hire. 

You can order your card online before you reach the city and have it shipped home, to your hotel or pick it up once you arrive. If you are already in town, you can pick it up straight away – there’s no processing time. This card comes with a booklet, map and magazine, perfect for planning your trip as soon as it arrives. Alternatively, you can download the I Amsterdam City Card App to check out some of their recommended itineraries. 

Maestro Card/ Cash

If you have not travelled to Amsterdam before you won’t be aware that most supermarkets don’t accept anything other than maestro cards. Likewise, with smaller businesses like cafes, bars and restaurants have a similar policy regarding credit cards.   

You do not want to be that unsuspecting Visa or Mastercard user who’s card gets rejected after enjoying a three-course meal in a posh restaurant. For that reason, be sure to either have a maestro card at hand or carry cash with you at all times. But, there is no need to worry too much, though, as there is an abundance of ATM’s scattered around the city. 

Waterproof Clothing 

Amsterdam weather can be very unpredictable all year round, but chances are if you are there for more than two days you’ll see some rain. With this in mind, we advise you to pack several items of waterproof clothing. A good rain jacket and some a sturdy pair of boots should do the trick.

OV-Chip Card

Amsterdam is renowned as a cycle-city, but it’s public transport is comprehensive and efficient. To travel on public transport in the city, you will need an OV Chipcard. Buses, trams, trains and metro services require this useful smart card to gain access. 

Thankfully, there is no specific OV Chipcard for tourists. We recommend using the single-use chipcard or an ‘anonymous’ OV Chipcard. You can purchase your OV Chipcard at public transport service desks, ticket machines at train stations, tobacco shops and in several supermarkets. 

Bring Earplugs

Amsterdam’s city centre can be a particularly busy place both during the day and at night. As a result, the noise levels can be extremely loud and keep you awake at night if you stay in the centre of the city. It is worth packing a pair of noise-cancelling earplugs. This will ensure you get enough rest to see all the sights in the day.

Backpacks Over Suitcase

When packing for your trip to Amsterdam, try to remember that many of the cities streets are cobbled and not ideal for suitcases. A good size traveller backpack will serve you perfectly well in the city. This is especially true if you are only staying for a few days.

Comfy Shoes Over Cloggs 

Do not be fooled by Amsterdam’s flat terrain, walking around the city all day will leave a mark on your feet. To avoid blisters and bruises, make sure you pack comfy trainers or sturdy boots. Also, you will undoubtedly find yourself riding a bike at some point. This calls for suitable footwear with high-grade calf support. The Dutch may have historically worn Clogs on their feet, but times have evolved and so has the footwear.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Adaptor 

Like most other countries in the EU, the Netherlands power sockets have two prongs. So, if you are travelling from any non-EU country, we recommend buying a travel adaptor before arriving in Amsterdam. You do not want to reach your hotel without access to your phone charger or beard trimmer when you have big plans in the city that night. 

Study A Map Of Amsterdam Beforehand

The Dutch Capital has a notoriously confusing layout, thanks to the endless canals that curve around its oldest and more central neighbourhoods. For this reason, we recommend consulting a map before you get to the city. It is almost inevitable that you will get lost on your first outing onto the canals,that is why identifying key landmarks beforehand can help you find your bearings. 

Carry ID At All Times

If you are not a native Amsterdamian, you probably won’t be aware that in the Netherlands you are required by law to carry ID at all time. Due to this law, you must remember to carry a form of photo ID card at all times. Although it is not common, police officers can fine you if you do not have identification present on request. 

If you are thinking of travelling to Amsterdam follow these tips, stay safe and enjoy your trip. If you require a laundry service on your trip, Laundryheap is here to help with all your laundry worries.


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Challenges Of Travelling Solo

Solo travelling can be an experience like no other! With no friends or family with you, it can be easy to begin daydreaming about sleeping in with no judgement or stuffing our faces day after day, guilt-free. 

Travelling solo can indeed produce a wealth of excitement and adventure. It is also true that it brings with it some real struggles. One day your drinking at a hostel bar with new your new fascinating international friends, the next you might find yourself alone and lost in one of the less friendly neighbourhoods in town. If you are thinking of giving solo travelling a try, then make sure know what you are getting yourself into. 

  • Breaking the news to friends and family that you will be solo travelling
  • Having to make new friends 
  • Bringing your bag with you EVERYWHERE
  • Not speaking to anyone for a whole day (or more)
  • Relying on selfies
  • No one to split the bill with 
  • Getting lost on your own
  • Feeling sick with no one to look after you
  • Having no one to share your experiences with 

Breaking the news to friends and family that you will be solo travelling

This is something anyone who has considered travelling solo will understand. Before your dream is even close to becoming a reality, expect your parents to ask you thousands of time: “Why would you want to travel ALONE?!”. The same applies to close friends who might take offence to you wanting to travel on your own instead of with them. 

Getting questioned by your friends and family is always the first struggle solo travellers face themselves with. Some will question your motives for travelling solo, some your capacity to make friends and others might question your ability to survive on your own! Nearly 100% of the people bombarding you with such questions would have never been solo travelling themselves. They might not understand the numerous reasons there are for wanting to see the world on your own. Don’t let these initial reactions from people put you off of your dream. 

Having to make new friends 

The fear of not making new friends when travelling alone is probably number one on most peoples list of worries about travelling solo. Images flash through our minds of us sitting alone at a hostel bar, no one wanting to talk to us, checking our phones habitually for any human contact we can find.  

This reality can be especially true for those of us who are more introverted and don’t make friends as easily as others. It might be that you are surrounded by more brash extroverts who prevent you from getting a word in or just that you find it hard to build enough courage to start a conversation with someone. Thankfully, there are some suggestions to combat this struggle. You can always book day trips where you find plenty of like-minded solo travellers also looking for friends. Better yet, you could use this opportunity as a chance to grow your social skills and push you out of your comfort zone. 

Bringing your bag with you EVERYWHERE

Picture this, you have just arrived at your destination after 8 excruciating hours on a bus with no toilet on board. In a desperate hurry, you grab your bags and head full steam ahead for the bathroom. Just as you enter the door of the bathroom, you realise no one is with you to look after your bag, meaning you have to stuff yourself and your two oversized bags into the cubicle with you. 

This situation isn’t unique to bus stations, though. Want to go to the toilet in Mac Donald’s? Better bring your bag. Want to check out that beautiful view at the top of the hill? Be sure to take your bag. With no one around to watch out for your stuff, you have to be extra vigilant and ensure you bring your luggage with you EVERYWHERE when travelling from one spot to another. 

Not speaking to anyone for a whole day (or more)

The thought of spending some time alone could seem appealing to some people thinking of travelling solo. Although not all people quite realise just how much time they will spend alone. It is pretty common to leave the hostel in the morning, explore the city all day, and return at night without having said a word to anyone. Especially if you are in a country with locals who speak little English. 

While this can sound like heaven to some people, others aren’t as keen on their own company. This can often induce feelings of loneliness in people. The best way to avoid this problem is to hang around the hostel bar – strike up a conversation with the barman and your fellow travellers. Ask about their time in the city, or their experiences travelling so far, you might just find out some useful tips. You could end up finding yourself the perfect companion to accompany you on your next exploration around the city. 

Relying on selfies

A common theme for most solo travellers is that their photo albums only consist of two types of photos: photos of incredible views; and selfies with said incredible views in the background. You want to capture this once in a lifetime moment, but also don’t want to look like an obnoxious tourist carrying a selfie stick around. 

The only solution to this struggle is to ask a stranger to take a picture of you. It could be helpful to learn how to ask for a photo in the local language. This might seem like an impossible challenge, but it could be the only way to get that photo you so desperately desire.

No one to split the bills with

Splitting the bill on holiday is a ritual many of us take for granted. We all have glorious memories of enjoying delicious meals with friends on holiday and not being able to believe how cheap it was when divided up in the group. 

This problem doesn’t just relate to your time spent eating out on holiday. That cab from the airport would be 1/2 the price if you had 2 friends with you. That private hotel room with two beds inside would also be 1/2 the price if you had someone else to share with. As a solo traveller, you have to get used to eating all the costs throughout your trip. There isn’t an easy answer to this problem, you can use tools like Uber Pool to split the cost of taxis, but you will need to find friends to dine with if you want some help covering dinner. 

Getting lost on your own

Having two heads instead of one when navigating your way around a new city comes with its advantages. When you get lost in a new place with a friend, it can be an exciting adventure that you will one day retell to all your friends. When you get lost in a foreign place on your own, it can quickly become a scary experience, especially as darkness starts to creep into the sky. 

The best thing you can do if you find yourself in this sort of situation is to remain calm and remind yourself that if you got yourself to this point, then you can yourself back to your hostel. It might be a good idea to carry a business card from your hotel or hostel or take down the address on a piece of paper. That way you’ll always have the address to get home, even when your phone has run out of battery. Another tip would be making the most of the free city maps you find in almost every hotel or hostel reception.  

Feeling sick with no one to look after you

It’s never nice getting sick, especially when you are on holiday, and even more so if you are alone. No one wants to be the person in a hostel dorm keeping everyone up all night, with there sneezes and coughs, not to mention the fear of spreading the illness. 

With no friend to confide in and tell you it’s going to be OK, you can find yourself calling your parents at awkward times to describe your symptoms in the hope they have the magic cure. If you do get sick while travelling solo, take the time to slow down, get some rest and take the break your body is clearly crying out for. It could be a solid move to treat yourself to that private hostel room to ensure you don’t alienate yourself from the rest of the backpackers by keeping them up all night.

Having no one to share the experience with 

There will be various times throughout your solo journey that something unbelievable will appear in front of you, you will be dying to discuss this phenomenon, but alas, you will be alone. This can often be a strange realisation for travellers when they find themself faces with incredible beauty but have no one to discuss it with. 

That is not to say these moments can’t still be enjoyed when you are alone. Times like this are perfect for self-reflection or journaling your experiences. It will also help you to appreciate your own company and eventually realise some moments are more special when only experienced by yourself.

If you are travelling solo and you are lucky enough to end up in one of the cities we operate in, why not choose Laundryheap as your new laundry companion. We are currently based in London, but our services are available in London, Manchester, Coventry, Birmingham, New York, Dublin, Dubai, Sharjah and Amsterdam. 


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Backpacking Tips For Beginners

Backpacking somewhere across the globe is a super exciting and invigorating experience. You get to meet new people, you’re exposed to different cultures and customs and you can try all sorts of unfamiliar food.

If you’re going backpacking for the first time, here are some handy tips that will give you a head start.

Backpacking Tips For Beginners

  • Do your research: First of all, make sure to check the weather in the exact location you’re travelling to, so you can pack the right clothes. Most importantly, do a little bit of research about the country, for any important rules or regulations, and even check for areas you’d like to visit there. Also, try to familiarise yourself with basic words or common phrases in the relevant foreign language. This will especially be helpful in communicating with locals who don’t speak or understand your mother tongue.

 

  • Don’t use a bag that’s longer than your body: Using a bag that is awkwardly longer than your body will only encourage you to pack a whole lot of unnecessary things and it can be super uncomfortable on your travels. Instead, use a backpack that fits you right and feels comfortable with weight in it. Choose a backpack with a lot of inner pockets to store your valuable necessities and outer mesh pockets to keep your water bottles in.

 

  • Comfort over fashion: It’s important to note that you should always choose comfortable clothes over fashionable ones when backpacking. This is simply because you’ll always be on the go and moving from one place to another, so it wouldn’t make sense to dress fashionably in this type of occasion. Choose lightweight clothes that are comfortable, breathable, durable and can be worn more than once. Dressing this way will also prevent unnecessary attention from pickpockets and thieves.

 

  • Pack light: When packing your clothes, you want to bring as little as you possibly can. To help you with this, bring out all the clothes you think you’ll need and take away half or even more of those. You’ll only really need a few of your most basic clothes that you can repeatedly wash and wear, which includes a couple pairs of socks and underwear. If you want to organise your things and create more space, use packing cubes.

 

  • Roll your clothes: Rolling your clothes is such a great space saver and you don’t have to worry about your clothes being creased!

 

  • Bring a ‘loo kit’: Depending where you travel to, some countries don’t quite offer the necessities you need after using the toilet and for the other countries, well, let’s just say the ground would be your toilet. It’s best to bring along a packet of tissues or wipes and anything else sanitary with you on your travel. This will also come in handy in general really.

 

  • Bring plastic or canvas bags: You never really know what kind of things will happen on your trip. Perhaps your clothes get really dirty and you need somewhere to put them, or you do a bit of shopping for snacks and more souvenirs and now you have no more room in your backpack. This is where bringing a few plastic or canvas bags come in handy.

 

  • Pack small bottles of toiletries: Your aim is to pack light, so don’t go bringing huge bottles of toiletries. Instead, use small bottles to pack your essentials and if they run out, just buy new ones in the local store and refill them, simple! Essentials like toothpaste, which might be a bit awkward to pack, can be bought from small local shops at the destination, so essentials like this can be left behind.

 

  • Stay in hostels with free breakfast: Staying in hostels is a great way to meet other travellers and possibly make new (travel) friends. There’s nothing more exciting than meeting like-minded individuals with great stories to share. If you can get to stay at hostels offering free breakfast, that’s even better, because who doesn’t love free food?!

 

  • Don’t plan your whole trip: The whole point of backpacking is to be spontaneous and explore your exotic surroundings. It’s okay to plan the beginning of your trip, but from there, you just have to go out, be free and explore for yourself.

 

If you feel like your clothes need a professional cleaning after your trip, you can count on Laundryheap to get the job done for you. Laundryheap is available to clean your clothes in some cities in the following locations: UK, Ireland, Netherlands and the UAE.