Category Archives: Travel Tips

The challenges of traveling with Type 1

For the first fourteen years of my life, I didn’t have a worry in the world. I would pack my bags and leave with my family to a conference or go on a long hiking trip and only have to worry about having enough clothes along and maybe a book to read. If I didn’t pack enough undies or socks it would maybe make me a bit uncomfortable but certainly
would not be life-threatening!

canstockphoto71865801Since my diagnosis last April those days are no more. Now my very life depends on having a proper supply of insulin and other supplies at all times. You would think something this important would be easy to manage right?

Perhaps if I was living a more conventional life, spending most of my time in one house with my medicine in one fridge it would be a bit easier. We on the other hand are full time travelers and move from country to country and hotel to hotel. Sometimes we get up early and catch a shuttle to the airport at 5 AM for an early flight making it even more difficult to manage.

If you have type one diabetes and are struggling to adjust to the new lifestyle, and occasionally forget your medicine, don’t worry you are not alone. I guarantee you will feel better about yourself after reading my story.

I have had several “insulin management” challenges all over the world.

The first time was about 6 weeks after I was diagnosed. We were in Oregon and I left all of my supplies at a restaurant. I didn’t think about it until we got back to our camp almost an hour away.

We were able to retrieve it after a few phone calls and a few hours of driving.

We were visiting my Grandmother in Salem Oregon and as usual we put my insulin supply in the fridge. Insulin needs to be kept cold or it can spoil. After a nice visit we headed out to Bend Oregon about 2.5 hours drive away. When we arrived I realized I had left my supplies behind. My Aunt Arwen was kind enough to drive them all the way out to us! Thanks Aunty!

I left it again a few months later in a restaurant in Texas this time we got it back more quickly but the problem had yet to be solved. My Dad is a systems guy and he said to me “we need to develop a system to help us manage this better”. I agreed.

My next big “Insulin management” challenge came when we went from New Zealand to Australia. We decided to leave our main supply of insulin at our friend’s place in New Zealand.

We packed enough for the 25 days we were planning to be there and carefully placed the package in the fridge at our hotel room – ready to go for our 5 am shuttle ride to the airport. When we arrived at the airport and began checking in for our flight we suddenly realized that we had left the package in the fridge at the hotel. My dad quickly called the hotel. They ran up to our room, found the package in the fridge, gave it to the shuttle driver and instructed him to deliver it to us in departures. He made it on time and we still had time to get through security and make our flight to Australia.

We had a lovely “incident free” time in Australia. We visited some lovely places and met wonderful people.

A month later, just as we were about to fly back to NZ, we received news that our Jeep wasn’t going to arrive in Auckland for another 24 days as the ship was delayed due to a large Hurricane.

We made a quick last minute decision to stay in Australia for another 24 days. This of course left us short on insulin. I was able to visit a doctor’s clinic, get a prescription or “script” as they call it and then buy a backup supply of for Lantis, Humalog, test strips, needles and lancets. One nice thing is that in Australia they actually sell the AVIVA brand of tester supplies like I was used to from Canada. Some countries like New Zealand will carry different blood glucose testers which makes it a bit difficult to manage your BGL because you get used to your system and it’s hard to change. We bought enough to last 3 months just to be sure of no further issues.

Because of the length of the delay of our jeep we decided to visit Bali now rather than after our trip to NZ as originally planned. A few days later we packed our bags and headed to the airport.

An hour into our flight from Adelaide to Denpasar, Indonesia, my Mom jumped up and yelled “KEVIN!!” actually she said “oh no! we left your insulin supply in the fridge! Not much we could do, there was no turning around now.

I did a quick calculation and figured I would be ok with the partial insulin pen I had in my backpack. Our visit to Bali was for about two and a half weeks and I had enough to last if I were to eat a very carbohydrate conscious diet.

A week into our trip and I realized that the Balinese diet was anything but low carb and soon I began to get low on both Lantis and Humalog insulin. My Dad began calling and dropping in at local pharmacies to see if he could buy some more. Finally after much searching we were able to visit a remote hospital where the very helpful doctor sold us some of their supplies. The applicator pens were different than the ones I am used to, but after reading the labels and documentation it appeared that the product was the same. We had enough supplies to make it back to Australia safe and sound.

Now what have we learned from all of this?

Here are the main challenges:

One. Leaving my daily insulin bag under tables at restaurants.

Two. Leaving my main insulin supplies in friends’ and hotel fridges.

Solution 1:

The first thing we thought of was to buy a bigger better
bag to carry my daily insulin and supplies. The one I was leaving behind was a very small fanny pack style bag. Initially we thought the smaller-the-better, but all that did was make it easy to leave behind.

To solve the problem, we chose a “Patagonia Atom Sling”. Any brand will do but this bag is made tough, has lots of room and is comfortable to wear.


I have been happy with this solution. The larger bag easily carries my gear, is comfortable to wear even on long hikes and doesn’t make me feel like a tourist carrying a fanny pack.


Solution 2:

The next thing we thought of was to pack all of my insulin the
night before we leave removing it from the fridge and placing it in my luggage with an ice pack. This prevents us from accidentally leaving it in the fridge of the hotel before an early flight.

Solution 3:

The third system we implemented was to use the alarm system on my iPhone. We normally set an alarm to alert us of an early flight or departure. Now we name the alarm “REMEMBER TO CHECK INSULIN SUPPLIES”. Before turning off the alarm we are reminded to check our supplies.

All three of these systems have really helped me manage my insulin supply better and have made traveling with T1D a much better experience even though I still forget from time to time.

A few weeks ago I forgot my bag in a restaurant in the town Te Anau and didn’t notice until we were 3 hours south in Bluff NZ. We called the restaurateur and he went looking for it and found it. He said hang on there for a minute and left the phone.. a few minutes later he came back and said “you’re in luck. I caught the last truck out. The driver is a friend of mine and lives near where you are staying. He is going to deliver it to you”. What a relief, I was so thankful! Along the way we’ve met some very kind and caring people.

Let me know if you have found this post helpful and please share any tips or tricks that have worked for you in the comment section below.

Peter Jr van Stralen @petervanstralenjr

The Sky Couch

Hi my name is Daniel I’m 12 years old and have been traveling for a year with my family.

My family and I have flown in lots of different airplanes since we started our travels and have had many different experiences in each one. 

Each place I’ve gone to has a different idea on how to make their passengers flying in the plane more comfortably. They all do a great job but in my opinion the Air New Zealand airlines are one of the best. 

That is because of an option they call the Sky Couch. 

skycouchNo, It’s not a flying couch but it sure feels like it. The sky couch’s bed-like padding and fluffy pillows allows the passenger to fall right to sleep. 

The sky couch is a lot like first class but not as expensive. I don’t know the exact prices of sky couch but you can find out on the Air New Zealand website. I do know however that the prices of the sky couch but it is basically the cost of three regular coach economy seats but shared by two people. 

From my experience on the sky couch I would say it is the most comfortable airline seating option for those who want to sleep on a super long flight next to first class. Here is a picture of what you can expect if you book sky couch.

You can use it as a bed or sit comfortably with others. While you sit or lie down on the sky couch you can also watch movies on your own TV screen. Air NZ has a large selection of Every seat on air New Zealand has a TV but not all seats allow you to lie down and watch tv like the sky couch does. Since you have three seats for two people you have the extra elbow room while seated, but the real benefit comes when you are really tired and just want to lay down. 

At this point you reach under your seat and pull up the handle transforming your three seat row into a full size bed. The flight attendants provide you with pillows and comfortable blankets and you stretch out and fall asleep. For someone my size it’s a nice big bed. For someone 6′ 4″ like my Dad it’s a bit small, but it’s still a lot better than sitting upright for 12 hours. When my dad straightened out his legs they went right across the aisle. Most of the time however he lay on his side and was quite comfy. 

That’s why I think that air New Zealand’s sky couch and costumer service makes them one of the best airlines I have ever been on. 

I definitely recommend that if you’re going to New Zealand and make sure to book yourself the sky couch for a comfortable ride to a beautiful place. 

You can ask more questions about the sky couch in the comment section or on the air New Zealand website. Also leave a comment if this blog was useful or if you have any ideas for future blogs.

Thanks for reading! Follow our journey on Insta @workplaycare

Our Bali Adventure & How You Can Plan Yours

We booked our flights and tours with Flight Centre in conjunction with Infinity Holidays in Adelaide on January 1st, 2017. Our travel agent Hailie was very insightful and within a few hours, we were able to book our tickets with Tiger Airways, 6 guided tours, and 3 hotels for a duration of 2 weeks from January 7th-20th. Afterward, we immediately began researching more about the climate, currency, and culture of Bali since we had never been to Southeast Asia before. We were given a compact waterproof folder that held all the papers and information we would need during the trip including brochures, flight tickets, and an itinerary. The itinerary included; Confirmation numbers, emergency contact numbers, important times, and location information. With all of this confirmed information, we were able to have seamless travel but still not knowing what to expect every day, allowing us to still have a great experience and adventure. We would be taking 6 guided tours throughout the first week of the trip with Buffalo Tours. Our guide for the majority of the tours was named Ariani, she was wonderful and an incredible source of information. All of the tour drivers were friendly and trustworthy. Exceptional customer care with a helpful, kind, and always positive attitude was clearly evident in everyone we met in Bali.

Before we left, we gathered enough basic information to know what to pack. It’s important that no matter what time of year you go to bring sunscreen and bug spray. Both are available in Bali but make sure to bring your own just in case. A sunhat of your choice and sunglasses make the days out and about in Bali a lot more comfortable, especially when it’s sunny of course! Not wearing inappropriate footwear or wearing too hot of clothing is a common mistake no matter what time of year you go.

Swimwear is essential. We spent 99% of the time barefoot or in sandals, but tennis shoes or hiking boots are good to have for hikes, biking, and other activities. A travel umbrella or raincoat can be useful as it was for many tourists walking through the streets of Ubud when the occasional but brief rainstorm would pass through. A money wallet/pouch is pretty important since you never know when you’ll want or need to spend it. My dad carried an “Undercover Eagle Creek neck wallet” which held all our passports, some of our money and other small papers. If you’re planning on capturing your trip for memories than be sure to bring your necessary or desired camera and electronics gear. I would recommend a GoPro camera for your travels since they not only take 4k quality videos, they are also small, lightweight, versatile, and have waterproof housing. This makes capturing your adventures so much easier, more fun, and you can capture moments that most cameras can’t!

What you pack really depends on your personal style, what you find comfortable, how long you will be staying, what the weather is like where you are going, and what type of activities you will be doing. For the clothing and footwear items on this basic packing list, you can add or remove the items you find necessary/unnecessary, or what you want to have based on your style, the activities you will be doing, and anything else you might think of. In Bali during our trip, it seemed to get a little cooler some of the nights or when it was raining so having a raincoat, long sleeved shirt or light sweater can be useful. Light flowy shirts, pants, dresses, etc were nice to have in Bali since it was pretty hot and humid.

*Keep in mind that there are two seasons in Bali, the wet season and the dry. Temperatures average around 31 degrees Celsius year round. The Wet Season which can be very humid is between October and April and the Dry Season between May and September.

Basic Pack List:

  • Passport(s)

  • Any Important travel documents/information

  • Foreign exchange money (In this case IDR)

  • Sunscreen (SPF 30 +)

  • Bug spray

  • Sunglasses

  • Sun protective hat

  • Camera gear

  • Sandals

  • Hiking boots and/or Tennis shoes

  • Swimwear

  • Shorts

  • Long pants and/or Hiking pants

  • Short sleeved shirt and/or Tank top

  • Sweater and/or Long sleeved top

  • Raincoat and/or Travel umbrella

  • Phone/Charger(s)

*Tip: In Bali, you can expect to see 2 pin socket and plug as used in larger parts of Europe. We brought a universal travel adapter to charge our electronics and camera gear. Some hotels do provide adapters.

* Tip: If you are planning on taking tours or visiting sights and attractions that require booking, you can very simply book them through a travel agency or at your hotel when you arrive. And, it makes your travel experience more seamless and fun to book ahead of time!

There are many tours and attractions to choose from, and many tours visit multiple sites in one day which is great! It’s important to find what you will want to see within your time frame but don’t always plan everything, it makes it more interesting and fun.

*(Keep in mind when we booked our trip with the travel agency we specifically told our travel agent that we wanted to avoid luxury, resorts, or too touristy attractions. So if a luxurious holiday is what you were looking for then this guide may not be for you.) If you were looking for a guide to a more borderline luxury accommodations, action packed, culturally immersive experience then keep reading!

The Tours We Took:

Farming & Daily Life Tour:

“Bali’s natural beauty never ceases to amaze, and this tour explores some of Bali’s best-untouched landscapes. Explore Taman Ayun, a royal Hindu temple amidst the lush scenery, and journey to Rumah Desa where the discovery continues with palm readings for all and a hike through rolling countryside. Spend some magical time in the heart of a Balinese rice field, farming the crop alongside the farmers and water buffaloes. Enjoy a hot, delicious lunch and a relaxing afternoon exploring the beautiful surroundings, including a stop at Jatiluwih to observe the breathtaking views of expansive rice fields.”

*This tour was probably my favorite, and a great way to start our trip in Bali. The description of the tour doesn’t even begin to describe the actual fun and incredible once in a lifetime experience that this tour provides. We ate passion fruit fresh off the tree, drank from coconuts, climbed palm trees, planted rice and prepared a rice crop riding behind two water buffaloes, walked through enchanting jungle and over bamboo bridges, learned how to prepare coconut milk and shavings the traditional Balinese way, tasted delicious Balinese food, treats, and drinks in a serene garden surrounded by lush plants and Balinese traditional architecture, to say the least it was unforgettable!

IMG_0204.JPG(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/08/17)
IMG_0152.JPG(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/08/17)
IMG_0092.JPG(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/08/17)

Besakih Mother Temple Tour:

“It’s an early morning start for today’s tour; we make our way along the eastern coastline of Bali. First stop is at “Kerta Gosa” Hall of Justice located in Klungkung, the artwork and architecture is what makes this site famous.Continuing on we head to Bukit Jambul, perched on top of a green hill with beautiful views of rice terraces and encircled by fertile tropical trees.Making our way to the highlight of this tour, Besakih Mother Temple, it is located over a thousand feet up the side of Mt. Agung. Besakih is the largest temple in Bali, comprising of 23 separate but related individual temples. The impressive backdrop will have you feeling as if you were in the clouds.”

*Just as you begin to get used to seeing all of the hundreds of temples around Bali on every corner, and every street you then get to see the beauty and uniqueness of the Besakih Temple.The views, incredible architecture and cultural experience this place and tour provides is unlike any other. On the way back from the Besakih Temple we did a side stop at an amazing place that makes Kopi Luwak Balinese coffee. We got to walk through a beautiful pathway surrounded by dense jungle vegetation and was home to many of the different coffee beans and natural ingredients that are used to flavor the coffees and chocolates such as vanilla. We got to try grinding the coffee and tasted many different amazing coffees, teas, and cocoa. My favourite was the coconut coffee, and their “Bali Dark Chocolate” which was delicious!

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IMG_0519.JPG(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/09/17)
IMG_0531.JPG(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/09/17)

Balinese Blessing & Cooking:

“Blessing rituals and offerings play an important part in Balinese daily life. Explore and partake in traditional rituals, cleansing yourself mentally and physically, eliminating bad energy and expressing gratitude through an offering that you build. In the afternoon, travel to a flourishing garden to pick fresh ingredients for a cooking lesson, and learn to cook a classic Balinese meal. Enjoy the fruits of your labora delicious, fresh lunch while taking in the stunning natural scenery.”

*This tour was extremely immersive and fascinating. My favourite part was eating the food we got to prepare from scratch and with all organic and freshly hand picked ingredients because the meals were beyond delicious. The dining area and kitchen had a stunning view of rice fields right outside!



img_0582(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/10/17)
img_0572(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/10/17)

Elephant Safari & Lunch:

“There’s no better way to appreciate elephants than to jump into their bathing lakes and take part in their morning bath. This exclusive interactive experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity, ride through their bathing lake bareback. Once you have finished bathing the elephants sit back, relax and enjoy a gourmet breakfast in the Park Restaurant overlooking the lake.”

*As an animal lover I couldn’t help but feel guilty pretty much the whole time, especially riding the elephants, but as long as our money is going to help the elephants in some way then I think it was a very fun experience. It was a great getting to wash, feed, and hug the elephants up close.


img_0716(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/10/17)


Tanah Lot Sunset & Cocktail:

“First stop on this tour is at Alas Kedaton, home to one of Bali’s famed monkey forests. Featuring towering nutmeg trees that are unique to this area and sacred to the Balinese people, it is also home to some of the cheekiest temple monkeys. Megwi is our next destination, making a stop at the former Royal Temple, Pura Taman Ayun. Built in 1634, it is arguably one of the most beautiful temples on the island surrounded by a moat. Purah Tanah Lot is the last temple we visit, perched on top of a rock just offshore. At low tide,  it can be reached by wading out and at high tide, the waves create mesmerizing rainbows as they crash against the temple.”

*This was definitely what we needed after a very busy last four days of tours. The luxurious resort surroundings, cool ocean breezes, beautiful view of the temple from the comfortable lounge, chill music, delicious food, and the most incredible sunset I have ever seen…not a bad way to relax in Bali. The monkeys were cool, but to be honest, I wanted to leave pretty soon, and we had to try bargaining with a lady over a dress and tank top that we ended up spending $45 on which we didn’t plan on having to do. And we didn’t end up stopping at the Pura Taman Ayun temple on the way since we had already been there on an earlier tour and we were all pretty tired.


img_0972(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/12/17)
img_1005(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/12/17)

Mountain Cycling Tour:

“Your cycling tour begins with the stunning views of Mt. Batur Volcano in Kintamani. Start with a journey downhill through 26km of lush valleys, passing Balinese villages, century-old temples and rich green rice fields along the way. Your expert guide will explain the history of the land and its culture to make your experience unforgettable. Your adventure ends at the Bali Adventure Tours Elephant Safari Park where lunch awaits.”

* This was a really fun tour! But if you are a mountain biker/cyclist and you’re used to your average to really nice bikes then be prepared to use not very new or exactly comfortable bikes. It wasn’t like we were riding in agony for the entire tour, or that we were completely uncomfortable but it definitely made us thankful for our own bikes! The ride was beautiful and easy, though we had to cut the ride short because my brother was experiencing a very low blood glucose level (T1D) it was still nice to enjoy lunch at the Elephant park.


img_1048(Caroline van Stralen Photography. @Caroline.Abroad, 01/13/17)

Our Accommodations/Recommendations:

*In Bali you have to be prepared to have a few harmless critters in your room! We only found two tiny geckos on the walls that never bothered anyone, they were actually pretty cute!

Tjampuhan Hotel & Spa, Ubud, Bali (January 7-14):

This hotel was incredibly beautiful, and definitely a wonderful place to stay when you first arrive or for the entire duration of your trip to Bali. We booked for two “Superior Agung” rooms which were beautiful, comfortable, air conditioned, clean, and in a traditional Balinese Architectural style. This hotel has many beautiful rooms to choose from that are placed amid lush Balinese palms, plants, and vibrant exotic flowers overlooking a tropical ravine. Through the trees and across a walking bridge suspended high above a wide river you can see a beautiful temple, and just down the stone pathway from our room was a beautiful swimming pool which was perfect for cooling off. The rooms feel peaceful and secluded and our rooms were a couple hundred stone steps down from the main lobby which sounds terrible but it was actually not that bad and a great workout! The Ubud markets, restaurants, and other shops are accessible right outside the hotel.


img_0032(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/10/17)

Puri Saron Baruna Beach Cottages (January 14-15):

We had booked a “Deluxe Room” at this hotel which was a 3-hour drive from the Tjampuhan in Ubud. This hotel is located right along a northern Bali beach with extremely friendly staff, and great service and the pool was also enjoyable. For the price, it was a good place to stay the night and experience Northern Bali.

Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort (January 15-16):

*(We didn’t book this hotel with the travel agency but we decided after we had spent the sunset tour here that we would like to relax at this resort for a few more days since it was so beautiful.)

This resort is the perfect place to relax, swim in and amazing pools and water slides, walk through beautiful grounds and gardens, eat delicious food, and watch an unforgettably stunning sunset from your balcony or lying under a secluded open bungalow right next to the ocean. My family spent the duration of our time here swimming while I got caught up on homework. The rooms, service, and views were perfect and I am so thankful we stayed here during our trip!

img_0961(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad)
img_0994(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/10/17)

Rama Candidasa Resort & Spa (January 17-20):

After a relaxing and incredible couple of days on at the Pan Pacific on the southwest coast, we drove 2 hours to the Rama Candidasa Resort on the east coast. This resort highly exceeded expectations and was my personal favorite place we stayed in Bali. It was quite, secluded, beautiful, right next to the ocean, private little bungalows with beautiful gardens and pathways leading to a perfect and relaxing pool next to a restaurant with delicious food and friendly staff. This resort was the perfect spot to relax, do school, swim, and enjoy a magnificent sunset behind the mountains and was the perfect ending to our trip.

img_1117(Caroline van Stralen Photography, @Caroline.Abroad, 01/19/17)

Our Transportation/Recommendations:

Since we booked our tours and pre-booked our transportation to hotels, and the airport with Buffalo Tours we were provided with private, air-conditioned, comfortable transportation with friendly driver and guide and complimentary water bottles. This was nice when we were doing our tours because it can get pretty tiring when you have a jam-packed week of full day tours and it was pretty warm and humid while we were in Bali. Whenever we wanted to go to the markets or the store we just walked because they weren’t far, and it was less hassle. But if we wanted to go to different attractions, or locations without a tour or driver then motorbikes are definitely your best choice. Everybody drives them here from small children to tourists, and they make travel through busy city traffic or long roads much quicker, and fun!

  • Motor Bike

  • Personal Driver

  • Tour Bus


There are many restaurants and cool food places to choose from with a variety of foods, drinks, traditional dishes, with international, vegetarian, and vegan options! I think that Ubud is a good place to explore your food palette and try new things.

The traditional Balinese food may or may not be for you, but there is always something for everybody.

If you’re coming from a first world country don’t expect to see pizza, fries, pasta, steak, or chicken wings on the menu. Or if it is on the menu, don’t expect it to look or taste the same as your used to. I personally used to not like to go very far outside my comfort zone especially when it came to food, until we started traveling a lot outside of North America. But now that we have been to places like Haiti, Cuba, and Bali I am so glad I went outside my comfort zone and tried the local and traditional foods because I now know I would have regretted not trying them. You just have to go for it!…and be careful  to know where the food is coming from.

Nine Of The Most Beautiful Photo Ops In Bali:

During our travels, I have been trying to find more off the beaten path and less mainstream places, especially since I love photography and it can be frustrating when there are millions of photographs of the exact same spot! But of course, I am not going to turn down the opportunity to photograph a place when we visit it even if it is touristy. *So here are 9 of the most popular and some less mainstream but breathtaking spots and photo ops for your Bali adventure!

  1. Pura Besakih Mother Temple

  2. Pura Tanah Lot Temple

  3. Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Temple

  4. Campuhan Ridge Walk

  5. Gitgit Waterfall

  6. Pura Luhur Uluwatu

  7. Pura Lempuyang

  8. Ubud Monkey Forest

  9. Tegal Wangi Beach


The currency in Bali is the IDR – Indonesian Rupiah.

The currency code for Rupiah is IDR, and the currency symbol is Rp.

The most popular exchange rate is the IDR to AUD (Australian Dollar).

Indonesian Rupiah banknotes come in denominations of Rp 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and Rp 100,000.

IDR  to AUD:

1,000 Rp = $00.10

2,000 Rp = $00.20

5,000 Rp = $00.50

10,000 Rp = $1.00

20,000 Rp = $2.00

50,000 Rp = $5.00

100,000 Rp = $10.00

1,000,000 Rp = $100.00

5,000,000 Rp = $500.00

10,000,000 Rp = $1000.00

* There are a few different ways and places you can get your currency exchanged. You are more likely to get a better deal ordering currency from the top two options, it’s rare to get a good deal in airport stores or kiosks because exchange rates are high, and there are a lot of high fees.

  • Your bank/Credit Union
  • Order currency through a cash converter
  • Airport Kiosk/Stores

I hope the information this guide/Journal provided was beneficial to planning your trip! Good luck on your future adventures. Don’t forget to “live unbound, beyond the borders of your comfort zone and limitless to the possibilities of adventure. Live a life that makes you feel alive.” – C.S.v.S Follow me on Instagram: @Caroline.Abroad


My research on travel-friendly Dogs

By Daniel van Stralen – 12 years old. 

Over the past year I have traveled around North America with my family of 5, in our Winnebago RV. Currently we are traveling in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.  

I think it’s fair to say that I am a dog lover. I would like to get a dog again someday but I understand the challenges of traveling with pets. So, I am currently doing some research to get a better understanding of what type of dog would fit my family’s life style.  

I would need a dog that doesn’t mind riding in our Jeep or motor-home for hours at a time. I need a dog that loves to hike and climb mountains and finally I need a dog that is not too hairy because we live in small spaces and my Dad would be sneezing all night. 

So while traveling I’ve been looking around and asking fellow travelers what dog or dogs they love traveling with.  It is really fun research because I’ve been able to pet and make friends with so many awesome dogs everywhere I go. Their humans are usually really nice too. 

I’ve gotten back lots of good feedback from many different travelers. I’ve seen all types of dogs from active to relaxed, big and small, long and short haired. 

Every one has different opinions but I’ve found my favorite dog breeds for the active traveler. 

Here are the top two active breeds I like best! 

  1. Australian Shepard.
  2. Jack Russell.

I will start with the Australian Shepherd. Most people think that they would be big and aussyscary just because of the word Shepherd in their name, but they are actually very cute. To give you an idea of what they look like here’s a picture.

I know they are pretty furry but you can trim their hair or get a short haired Australian Shepherd. They are active dogs and are perfect on hikes or mountain biking. They also are good at going on walks and being a family guard dog. They can be trained to do a lot of tricks.

 One Australian Shepherd I know can even army crawl. I had the pleasure of meeting plenty of Australian Shepherd’s at the Over Land Expo in Asheville, North Carolina. The one I got to spend the most time with was named Athena. They are good in RVs and in cars as long as you take them out for a walk/play every few hours, just like a kid like me, I love getting out and playing between long trips. 

Overall Australian Shepherds are great traveling dogs for the active traveler, I’ve seen some running beside their owners on everything from mountain bike trails to multi-day treks.

So now that you have heard all about Australian Shepherds I’m going to talk about the Jack Russell. 

Jack Russells are in the small category of dog sizes. They are very playful and they love to dig holes, but I’m sure you can train yours to not dig up your lawn. 

These are very cute dogs and are mostly short haired. Jack Russells are also one of the smartest dogs in the world. If you have never seen a jack Russell they are pretty hard to picture, so here is a photo of one.


I have met a lot of Jack Russells and have had fun playing with every one of them. Jack Russell’s are very active, especially Jack Russell puppies. 

They are good hikers and swimmers and are able to carry a dog hiking pack. They are good in RVs and cars as long as you take them out to exercise and feed them. I personally recommend using a soft case to transport or carry them in. 

My conclusion so far is that both Jack Russells and Australian Shepards are great for the active traveler like me, but I can’t choose between them at this time. Maybe I’ll ask my parents if I can get one of each. 😀

I hope you found this blog useful. If you have any questions or can share some more insight on these dogs or other breeds, please comment below. 

Thank you 


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To guide or not to guide. That is the question.

By Caroline

~Does having a tour guide make it less of an adventure? ~

Having a tour guide while exploring Bali was not in our initial plan, and at first I wasn’t thrilled about the idea. I have always had the notion that tourists with tour guides and itineraries are missing out on a spontaneous and adventurous experience.

img_6540However, now that we’ve experienced Bali with the help of a tour guide, we couldn’t be happier. In fact, if this is your first time traveling to Asia we would highly recommend you consider hiring a guide as well!

As with most DIY travelers, the tour guide option was a new experience for us, but as I look back on our trip, I am particularly thankful for Ariani, our friendly, English speaking guide. For us she was like a living, breathing Bali encyclopedia.

She shared with us many different historical, religious and cultural facts from a perspective that only a local citizen could give. image2

She helped us avoid tourist traps and other possible money-wasters, allowing us to enjoy the best that Bali has to offer. She taught us words in Balinese and helped open our eyes and minds to the incredible beauty of this Indonesian island.

image3Creating a memorable and life changing travel experience often depends on the decisions you make before you go. Choosing a tour guide might just be the best decision you can make.

Follow on Instagram at @Caroline.Abroad


Things I am learning from life. (by Carol vS)

This is my first blog post so it’s not perfect, and a bit longer than I expected, but I really hope you find value in reading it.


image2Hi I’m Carol.

Peter and I were married 18 epic years ago. It was love at first sight. I am originally from Oregon, USA and moved to Toronto, Canada to start a family there with my husband.

We started with very humble beginnings, living in a small upstairs rented apartment with almost no furniture and a three-dollar coffee table. Some of our fondest memories are sitting around that little coffee table getting to know each other better. One thing we understood sitting around that little table was that if we weren’t happy in a small apartment we wouldn’t be happy living in a mansion.

We both had a strong work ethic, not knowing that “normal people” took weekends off or drove vehicles other than their work trucks. It never phased us, we were too busy working and having fun.

Soon Caroline came into our lives and then Pete Jr. The doctors told us we were at too high a risk with each birth, and that having more would most likely not happen, then along came Daniel. I feel so lucky and blessed to have each one.

As a snow plow and salt truck operator back in the early days of our marriage, Peter was often gone for days at a time. We wanted to spend time together but also knew he couldn’t abandon his work responsibilities. That’s when I had an idea. Yes, you guessed it. In the truck I went baby seat and all. Once during a particularly nasty ice storm the salt dispenser on our truck broke and we were far from the shop. That’s when Pete taught me how to drive a 5 ton truck in low gear with the instructions to drive around in circles. He then jumped up in the salt hopper  with a shovel and proceeded to salt the entire office complex by hand. What great memories and family bonding experiences these were!

Fast forward through the years of building our first home then selling it to build another – selling it and renovating another home where we lived happily for 10 years. These were busy times and we used to wonder what it would be like to just sit around and have a BBQ on the weekends.

Peter was thriving in his new role as CEO of the family franchise business. My passion other than our little family was to help and support him however I could. I would contribute in little ways like helping on a garden crew when they were behind or washing trucks or picking up uniforms and supplies. There was a time when we would sit together as a family at night in our living room and stamp, label and pack 4000 envelopes for our monthly company newsletter. I loved how we could balance work and family even while not always being able to be together physically!

When Peter had to leave on business trips, I would find notes by the kids beds telling them how much he loved them and how he was counting on each one to do their part

in helping mommy and the business by bringing in firewood or keeping their rooms clean and being on time for school.

Doing a morning huddle at home helped me and the kids be a part of everything. This face to face time gave us the opportunity to share good and bad news, to celebrate each other and to reassure each other that we are not alone. It was awesome to hear the kids talk about a test they were nervous about, or a new trick they had learned on their snowboard. We never felt we were on our own even though he worked around the img_2031clock.

I especially loved when we started We Care Day (Link) in honor of Peter’s sister and her children. This initiative really became the heart and soul of our office and franchise family and inspired us to learn to give.

We Make a Life by what we Give

One day a dear friend of ours told us about a mission trip they were all doing in Haiti. She invited us to participate in purchasing, assembling and delivering solar light kits to a remote poor community in Haiti. Our role was to assist with the donation, but also our time img_4263teaching the families how to operate and maintain their new lights. Spending time in the village really had a positive effect on us. I think we received as much help from this experience as those we were trying to help. 

Balancing work, play and CARE became our motto.

img_2037As a family we began to rethink our own life style and looked for ways to give back to those in need. Not just money, but time. Not just our own people, but also the unseen, unpopular and lowly.  – “the least of these my brethren.”.

We became very aware about whom we surrounded ourselves with and how we chose to live each day.

Why are we striving for “things” to impress other people? Success is not in material things is it?

Every month we made it a habit to read out our personal goals. Over time we realized that what we dreamed about were experiences but, what we spent our money on were things.

We are doing all of this for you guys, we’d tell the kids. Don’t you want nice things, and to live in a big house? we’d ask. As only a child could reply, “not really… we img_6604only use three rooms as it is.”

Our kids helped us realize that “time” was the best gift we could give our children and others.

We stopped thinking about money and what we could GET, and started thinking about what we could GIVE. That’s when it all changed for us.

For the next seven years we were on top of our game. Our business was growing img_2042rapidly and we were closer than ever as a family. Although it cost us at least four times more to do so, we traveled together as often as we could to trade shows, speaking engagements, conferences and expos. We knew we may never have a rich bank account doing this, but our lives would be richer in the fellowship and experiences we shared together.

img_2034Our vacations were usually work related events where we attended and participated at a conference and took an extra day or two to unwind. We would combine work and play so that they became one. We bought 5 longboards and between meetings would be seen longboarding through Central Park in New York or along the beach in Florida. We couldn’t afford the time or money to go on long trips around the world, so we explored our own local area and had a blast making so many memories!

I released that people won’t always understand the way you think! This time in my image1life really taught me to make our own family traditions and way of life. What works for one doesn’t necessarily mean it works for all. I loved meeting new people at franchise Expo’s and landscape shows and best of all I loved being in our home office surrounded by our team. You could say they and our franchisees became family. img_2046

In 2008 Peter told me that he had written a goal to travel around America in an RV. I laughed out loud because it just seemed impossible! We can barely take a few days off, how could we ever just go away like that? It took 8 years of hard work, but that dream came true!

It’s amazing how things fall into place when you are clear on your goals, and when you are working for a greater purpose. In 2015 Peter’s families’ business where he was part owner, and had been working for 25 years, was acquired by our business partner The Dwyer Group. The timing was right and was a good move for our franchisees our family and the Dwyer Group.

After a six-month transition period however Peter was essentially out of a job. With Peter’s experience in the franchising industry, he had many employment opportunities available but instead decided to put our money where our mouth is and choose a simplified, minimalist life-style that would allow us to spend lots of time with our kids. If Peter had owned the whole business, perhaps we could have retired, but as part owner we needed to continue making an income. Together we started a small speaking/ coaching business we call “Work Play Care” where we help others create success through a balanced, holistic approach to life.

What a year!

rv2This last year was exciting being on the road full time!  It was also a bit of a culture shock from the “norm”, and initially going from 2,500 ft2 to 250 feet was kind of hard.

img_2032I was enjoying our trip and travels, hiking, biking and meeting new people, but sometimes I’d miss the “comfort zone” of my routines – my house and friends and little things like cooking with an oven.

Then something happened that took us all by surprise and shock! I remember it clearly. We were hiking in Joshua Tree National Park in California. There was no cell phone service in the valley but as we climbed to higher elevations Peter’s phone began to beep with incoming messages.

When I looked back, I noticed he had stopped down the trail and then called for me to come back. I thought that’s odd, and saw on his face that something had happened. He gave me his phone and I was in shock!! I was looking at pictures of our home having been robbed and ransacked!

The same home we had worked so hard for. All the things we had collected over the years were all taken or trashed! The kids toys, jewelry, paintings, computers, TVs – everything was broken or taken! A feeling of violation and hurt came over me. Who would do such a thing? Do you know how hard we had to work for that?!

I remember Peter just said oh well it’s just stuff, we still have each other, but I wasn’t feeling the same way.. yet.img_2028

We decided to drive up to Oregon and have the kids stay with my family while Peter and I flew back to Toronto to clean up the damage. We  also had to fly to Ottawa for the Canadian Franchise Conference and then back to Toronto for a speaking engagement. For the first time in a long time I cried on our flight. I didn’t want to leave the kids.

When we arrived at our home and saw the police tape on our doors it became real. Looking around at the mess was horrible! I didn’t get really upset till I went in the garage and noticed that even my garden tools had been taken.  WHAT!? Anyone who knows me knows I love my tools. It was heartbreaking to see things like the boy’s paintball guns that they had worked so hard for, or my great grandmothers necklace gone. 

We decided after talking with the kids on the phone we would put the house up for sale. This was not a new idea for us, we had been talking of it ever since Haiti. It was clear it no longer felt like our home nor did it make sense to keep it now that we were on the road full time and had sold the family company.

We managed to clean up the mess by staying up till sunlight loading a large rubbish bin and burning the broken furniture in a big bonfire. In the morning we caught our flight to Ottawa then back to Toronto two days later.

img_2039After Peter’s speech we had a few hours to drive back to our home, buy a few pictures for staging and meet the real estate company to take pictures and sign the listing papers. As we were running out the door to catch our flight back to Oregon I remember looking at Peter shutting the door with this look of peace and excitement. We had talked of being free from material things, and now we were actually doing it. We had taken the leap!

It felt like a weight lifting off our shoulders as we opened the door to a new way of living.

fam-4We had no idea that the weeks ahead would test us even more. More than the sale of our business, more than our home being robbed and more than learning to live on the road.

A Life changing turn in the road

On one of our hikes in Yosemite National Park our son Peter Jr. began to feel very ill. We took him to a local hospital and were shocked when the doctor diagnosed him with Type 1 diabetes. His body had stopped producing insulin and as such despite eating and drinking liquids like crazy he was slowly starving and dehydrating. There is nothing quite as difficult as seeing your child lying in a hospital bed on multiple IVs and monitors. As a parent it really makes you realize just what is important to you in life. Wouldn’t you give all that you own just for another day with your child? (YouTube video of that moment here)

Pete’s positive attitude through his ordeal and recovery has been such an inspiration to us and to anyone who has heard his story and we know God had great things in store for him. (see Peter Jr’s Blog Post Here) climb

Things I am learning on this journey

  • Know YOUR dream and then take the leap.

First and foremost, it’s about knowing your own dream and not someone else’s dream for you. Be crystal clear on your dream and then make the leap required to achieve it.

  • Be grateful and content with what you have.

Be content and happy with what you have and you will be in a position to receive more.

  • Your calendar and wallet will show your priorities.
  • Anyone can do this, not many will.

Just work 19 hrs a day for 20 yrs and then sell everything and go. (I know people much smarter than us that have done it in much less time)

  • Maximize the time with your family while you can.

We never know how much time we have with our health and with our precious loved ones. Don’t wait.

  • Integrate work, play and care.

Work to integrate these three no matter what stage of life you are at. Just starting out with your career? Work will likely dominate, but don’t neglect the other two. Someday things will change and you will need to maintain the balance.

  • Enjoy life in the process!

The best days of my life are right now. Not 5 years from now. Not once we achieve this or that, but right now. Enjoy the struggle, enjoy the learning and enjoy the success. Enjoy life in the process.

Thanks for reading this, I hope you found some value in it. I am not usually this long-winded but this is my first post. I welcome you’re feedback. Do you have any comments or questions? Please comment below and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram etc. Click follow below as well.

Thank you!



Gaming on the road.

Me (right) and Pete (left) enjoying the views at The Grand Canyon

Airport layovers and long road trips just got a lot more fun. Introducing the GAEMS portable gaming console. Our travels have taken us over 60,000 kms of North America roads in search of epic outdoor adventures. During some of the long road stretches and long airport layovers, my brother and I have had a blast fun playing our games with our portable GAEMS units.


Today I’m doing a review on the GAEMS portable gaming system. 

First I’m going to be talking about the GAEMS features.

The GAEMS case allows you to carry it like a suit case, when the PS4 or any

Me and Pete playing in the RV while we drive down the freeway.

other console is inside it ways about 5 to 7 lbs. The GAEMS has only a few wires making it easier to move around, but it still needs to be plugged in to a power outlet.

There are three wires not counting remote charger. The first is the TV plug-in which allows your screen in the case to light up and project any thing you want to see. Next in my case is the PS4 power plug/wire or any console power wire depending on which you prefer. The last wire is the HDMI cable. This is the wire that allows the game from your console to be shown on the GAEMS screen.

What it comes with.

The GEAMS system comes with all 3 power wires and a little remote that allows you to turn the screen off or on and change the brightness and sound.  I’ve been using the GEAMS portable gaming case for about 7 months and I love it. It works really well while I’m traveling and overall in my opinion it’s the best portable gaming case out there. You can buy them directly from the GAEMS website or you can order it from a local you EB Games or GameStop. There are a couple of different models  available.

The Vanguard black edition  and the Sentry.

Here are some pictures with specs and prices.

1. The Vanguard black edition // Non-reflective 19″ 720p (1080p scaled) El-LED display


2. The Sentry GAEMS //  15” 720p LED display

 Have fun and make sure you balance your play time with other important things like work and care.  – Daniel van Stralen

Post by: Peter (Dad)

One thing we’ve learned on this trip is the need for agility and flexibility.

Sometimes the best laid plans just don’t pan out. This morning we got up early to head to the airport for our flight to Auckland. Our alarms were set, our bags packed, our tickets and passports ready to go. I woke up ahead of the alarm to check the time on my phone and noticed that an email had arrived from our shipping broker. email-messageHe informed me that the jeep would not in fact be arriving as scheduled but would be delayed in the Solomon Islands for about 24 days! What!?!  You see, the jeep is more than just a mode of transportation, it is also our home.

This means that we would be stranded in Auckland trying to find accommodation and transportation for 24 days which would be a very expensive situation.

Carol and I discussed the situation and decided it would be better to stay in Australia and perhaps travel around this region for a while rather than go back to the north island where we had recently spent almost a month.

So we jumped into agility mode and begin making phone calls. First I called our travel agent and had her cancel today’s flights and change them to the 24th. We then called our hotel in Auckland  and Expedia in Canada and had our reservation moved from December 31 to January 24. We then called to make sure we had living arrangements lined up here in Australia.

Next we discussed some potential options with the kids, one of which was to travel to another Southeast Asian country for part of the time while we wait for the jeep to arrive. We spent most of the morning with a local travel agent looking into options and decided that the most cost-effective option on such short notice was to travel to  Bali where we could tour the island, avoid touristy resorts, and experience the local culture, wildlife and natural surroundings.

Boom, within a few hours our plans had completely changed but because we were all involved in the process and have learned to adapt quickly, we were happy and ready for our next adventure.