Travel Blogger Nienke Krook Shares How She Packs Her Travel Bags

Nienke Krook

I’m Nienke Krook (pronounced ‘neen-kuh crow-k’), I’m from Amsterdam and have been living in London with my boyfriend since the end of 2013. We met each other in Sydney in 2008 and have been living abroad or travelling together pretty much ever since.

I work as a full-time blogger for my two websites ‘The Travel Tester’ and ‘The London Tester’, am a freelance writer and ambassador for ‘Space Nation Orbit’ and run a Pinterest Agency called ‘Dream.Pin.Go.’ Work is my hobby and passion at the same time, so I spend most of my time either working on a blog or coming up with new ideas for it!

Nienke Krook

How and why did you get into traveling?

I went on my first solo trip to Japan and Australia in 2006 and started a personal travel blog for family and friends. As it turned out, it was the best decision ever and I never looked back. I used to work as a primary school teacher, then worked in several hostels before I could finally take my freelance and blogging businesses to the next level and go full-time. It’s great to look back at photos and videos of my first solo trip, as I had such a good time -you can definitely see it on my face that this trip was life-changing!

I’m a total over-planner when it comes to travelling and especially for shorter trips, I try to research every little thing and even create Google maps where I mark all the spots I want to visit. But things always go different as planned, so these days I try to let my plans go a bit as soon as I arrive.

Nienke Krook
Nienke Krook in Karijini National Park, Western Australia

How do you finance your travels?

All of our personal holidays and weekends away are paid for by ourselves, as we like to have the freedom to see and do whatever we like, without having the pressure to take photos and blog about it. We don’t really spend a lot on things in our daily lives, we don’t shop a lot, we cook at home, go out only every now and then, so money saved is mostly spend on travel and trips back home to The Netherlands to see family and friends.

As part of my job, I have the opportunity to work on campaigns with tourism boards and brands, so that’s a great way to travel and make money at the same time, but because my boyfriend has very little days off each year, I try to keep these to a minimum and not be away too much. I’ve become very picky on which trips I say yes to, especially when we can’t travel together.

Nienke Krook
Nienke Krook in Lucca, Italy

Why is traveling important for you?

Travel to me is one of the best ways to work on your personal development, because you’re constantly thrown into situations that you didn’t expect. Especially when you travel alone (which I can recommend to everyone), you will become a master in problem solving, standing up for yourself and meeting other people. I’m a total introvert, but when I travel I don’t have any problem at all talking to strangers during the day. Then at night, I really appreciate the alone time as well.

Nienke Krook
Nienke Krook with boyfriend Nick Vullings in Broome, Western Australia

How do you bring your things with you?

When I travelled alone on my longer trips to Southeast Asia, New Zealand and Australia, India, Nepal and Japan, I had a 65 liter Quechua backpack and a smaller backpack for during the day. These days, I travel mostly on weekend breaks or to trade fairs/conferences that last a maximum of one week, so I pack a lot smaller. I also stay more in hotels these days, rather than hostels, so I don’t need to bring most toiletries and towels, for example. I’m in love with my Standard Luggage Co. 3-in-1 carry-on pack for all my shorter trips. It’s massive, yet still the size of allowed carry-on luggage on all airlines, including the budget ones. It amazes me every time just how much I can pack into this backpack.

How do you organize things in your bags?

When I travel carry-on only, I always use packing cubes to organise my clothing, as my backpack has a rectangular shape, so they fit perfectly. In my large backpack, the cubes don’t really work, so I roll my clothes and pack it as tight as possible, leaving no gaps. I have made a checklist on my phone (in the Evernote app), which I go through for every trip, so I never forget to pack anything anymore, luckily!

Nienke Krook

How do your bags and gear hold up?

I’m a serial over-packer, so by bags (and my back) always have a rough time when I travel. My Standard Luggage carry-on is super sturdy and comfortable, even when I stretch it to the max. I am still looking for a good day backpack that can organise my camera gear and loose items better.

At the moment, I use the Fjallraven Kanken backpack, but I find when you load it up too much, the straps really cut in your shoulders. I also use the Jack Wolfskin Royal Oak daypack, but I find it a bit too small. The search to the perfect bag will always continue, I’m afraid!

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

To be honest, I always find that I’m bringing too much gear, rather than not enough. In most countries, you can easily buy things you’ve forgotten and usually the more you bring, the less of it use end up using. The best thing to invest in is a good backpack or suitcase, as that is the the item you will be using the most, so I wouldn’t compromise on that.

Nienke Krook

What has been your best travel-related purchase below $100?

This year, I finally bought some small containers and managed to reduce the space that my toiletries and make-up take significantly. You’d be surprised how long your cremes and make-up actually last!

What is your best advice for other travelers?

Don’t plan too much, as things will always change. I’ve been on so many trips where I planned everything from A to Z, only to find there wasn’t nearly enough time to see it all, or something unexpected happened that changed the entire schedule. Have a rough idea of what you would like to see and do, but be flexible enough to let the plans go and jump on opportunities as they come along. You’ll travel a lot more relaxed that way!

Nienke Krook
Nienke on White Cliffs of Dover, UK

What will the future bring?

I’m working hard on my new website ‘The London Tester’, which is all about travel in the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and Ireland, so I would love to be able to travel more in those countries and share my experiences. While I love to see as many countries and cultures as possible, it’s been a real eye-opener to realize that there are some great adventures right in our own backyard.

Visit Nienke Krook on her website and follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

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