Staying overnight at YOTELAIR at Schiphol

Premium cabin at YOTELAIR at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

Premium cabin at YOTELAIR at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.

You have probably all experienced it, long connections at the airport between flights. Long layovers can be a pain in the ass, but it does not have to be like that. 

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is a major connecting hub, and for many visitors that means long layovers, often in connection with long and exhausting flights. Make most of the time and get some nice rest by check in at YOTELAIR for a few hours, or even for the night.  

Entering what I named the pink light district, the dimmed light and the absence of sounds gave me an instant feeling I would have a good night sleep. Unlike the red-light district downtown, you come here for rest, not different kinds of entertainment. The room can be rented by the hour, or you can spend the whole night. Just remember to shut the window blinds so you do not become the entertainment…

The room is well exploited, and has everything you need. The bed is made up as a couch when you enter, with a folding table just in front of it. Above that, there is a TV, and several electric sockets including USB, to fit all zones. Genius in case you sent your adapter in the checked luggage…

If you did not send any luggage and have a fair share of carry-on, there is a lot of space for your belongings under the bed. 

The bathroom is surprisingly spacious, with a huge monsoon rain shower, and body wash and shampoo included. The restroom is separated with a glass wall, but there is a curtain to cover it up. If you prefer more privacy, you can send your travel partner to the reception to sit and enjoy the free coffee, tea or hot chocolate that is served 24 hours.

The bathroom in a Premium cabin at YOTELAIR at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. There is also a monsoon rain shower.

The bathroom in a Premium cabin at YOTELAIR at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. There is also a monsoon rain shower.

We arrived around 21.30, and I was honestly surprised that all the shops and restaurants were closed already. We had eaten dinner at the last airport, but if you are hungry, it is good to know that you can order food and drinks at the reception 24/7.

Are you the same as me, always a light sleeper when you know you have to wake up early and do not completely trust your mobile to wake you? The reception provide you an extra alarm clock, just in case.

Then it is time to flatten out the bed by using the electronic buttons on the side, and tuck yourself in for a good night (or some hours) sleep in the comfortable bed.

Just remember to calculate time to exit the passport control in the morning…

How to get there:
If you arrive at A, B, C or D, you have to go through the passport control to get to YOTELAIR. If you arrive late it might seem closed, but there will be a security guard there to let you through. Once you get through, go upstairs, as YOTELAIR is situated more or less just above the passport control.

Are you not flying through Schiphol? Do not despair; you find YOTELAIR at London Heathrow and Gatwick and at Charles de Gaulle in Paris as well.

Book your next comfortable airport stay at www.yotel.com.

Hostel behaving rules

When traveling solo, I mainly stay in hostels. It is a great way to meet new people either for short conversations or ending up hanging out for a while exploring, and even continue the travel together.

The following suggested hostel behaving rules, were written after being woken up in the middle of the night in a hostel dorm.

1. Great the people you meet in your room (and the hostel in general).
2. Use the bed you are designated, not the one you might like better.
3. It might be smart to leave some personal belongings on your bed. In case someone in your room does not follow point nr. 2.
4. Unpack the things you need to get ready for bed before leaving the room. You never know what time your room mates will go to sleep, and when you suddenly end up getting back much later than planned.
5. Never snooze the alarm clock!
6. Do not switch on the main light in the middle of the night when others are sleeping.
7. Turn your phone on silent.
8. In case you need to repack at odd times (at night and early morning), bring your bag outside the room.
9. Do not bring guest to your room. Especially new friends… (Yes, the others can hear you…) (And walls are often thin if you have a private room…).

Do you have anything else to add on the list?

Getting to Belarus

Panorama view of the old part of Minsk in Belarus

Panorama view of the old part of Minsk in Belarus.

Belarus was mentally added to my Bucket List a few years ago. I was just killing time, looking at a map for new destinations to dream about.  Minsk is not too far from Vilnius and Wizzair has really cheap flights to there from Bergen, so that was the route I chose.

Do I need visa to go to Belarus?
First things first; Yes*, most nationalities need a visa. If your country does not have an embassy or consulate of Belarus, you qualify to arrange the visa on arrival at Minsk International airport. However, the price is then higher (for me 90€, compared to 60€) than if you arrange it before. Check your details for visa to Belarus.

After comparing back and forth quite a bit, I ended up arranging it before, even though using Visasupport AS had its additional cost as well.

*New rules from 12 January 2017 allow visa free entry for citizens of 80 countries for stays up to 5 days, so check the rules for your country. However, you then must enter and exit at Minsk International Airport Terminal 2. 

Transport between Vilnius and Minsk:
Arriving at Vilnius Airport I found a mini bus right to the left when I exited, that took me to the bus station for 1 Euro. I had actually bought a bus ticket with the Wizzair bus when I booked the flight, but as I did not instantly see it outside, I went for the other option. It was anyway cheaper, so I would choose this option next time. Or, maybe even the train, as it is right next to the bus station.

Since I was not sure if the flight would be on schedule, and also how long the transfer from the airport to the bus station would be, I did not dare to book the bus ticket from Vilnius to Minsk in advance. In hindsight, I would though. The bus from the airport to the bus station took only 10 minutes. For me it was not a problem buying the ticket when I arrived, but it can actually be sold out, so at least check regularly the availability online. And, if you have a long enough time lap to be sure to make it, why not book and get done with it? That is slightly cheaper too.

The bus from Vilnius to Minsk operated by TOKS was nice and comfortable. However, I would recommend taking the train by Belarusian Railway instead if it fits your schedule. Not only is it a faster route in general, but the passport control is done while the train is actually moving, making it more predictable as well. Taking the bus we actually had to check all our bags as well at the border. It goes without saying that the train was my choice getting back to Vilnius.

Accommodation:
As I have a Belarusian friend, I stayed over at his place, but there are several hotels in Minsk, such as Hotel Belarus or Manastyrski Hotel, situated in an old monastery. A number of apartments are also listed at Airbnb.

If you are new to Airbnb you can sign up using this link, and get $25 off on your first booking.

The train station in Minsk, Belarus

The train station in Minsk.

The train from the train station in Minsk to Vilnius

The train from Minsk to Vilnius

 

Different options for accommodation

What type of accommodation you use, often differ for different types of travels.
Here are some tips covering staying overnight in a private home, as well as some special types of housing.

Private housing:
I often prefer using Airbnb when travelling. Both because it is often cheaper than hotel, and more comfortable than a dorm in a hostel. But, the main reason is to get a little more feel of the places I visit. How do they live, and more important; get the locals insiders tips. Interaction with the hosts vary quite a bit, but if they are not present in the apartment themselves, my experience is that it is always possible to ask for tips in advance or during the stay.
If you are new to Airbnb you can sign up using this link, and get $25 off on your first booking!

Hotel:
Using search engines such as booking.comhotels.com or agoda.com to name a few, are useful to get the overview. Or the Norwegian site finn.no, actually searching all of these, and more! They often do offer the best prices, but do not forget also to check the hotel website as well for good deals.

If a very specific hotel is not that important, I suggest checking out www.hotwire.com, or the similar site Last Minute Travel. Here you can search for a certain area, and get information about the star rating and the price you have to pay, but you will not get the hotel name before you have actually done the non-refundable booking. The reason is the hotels of course want to get as many bookings as possible, but do not want to openly sell their rooms cheaper.

Hostel:
I have often stayed in hostels when travelling alone. It can be an easy way to get to know other travelers and hang out with them, and the staff is often local, knowing the secret spots. Some of the ones I have met while staying in hostels have ended up being friends for life. As they tend to come from all parts of the world they have so many different stories to tell about their country, as well as from other places they have traveled. The perfect way to get tips for new destinations to explore, and also a great personal experience when I end up visiting their hometown.
I mostly use hostels.com or Hostelworld when searching for hostels.

Unique accommodations:
Depending of the place you visit, there can be unique ways to stay overnight. Houseboat in Netherlands, cottage in Scandinavia, Rorbu in Norway, büd on Shetland, Trully house in Italy, a Mongolian Yurt, an old prison, or a vineyard, castle or lighthouse in different counties, just to name a few (or quite many, actually…). In other words, make sure to check the possibilities!
Airbnb has quite a selection of these “odd” places to stay, so check out their suggestions. If you like any of those, or decide just to go for a regular apartment instead, feel free to sign up at Airbnb using this link, and get $25 off on your first booking!