Meet the faces behind the most colourful, uplifting travel account on Instagram, Once Upon a Journey. Roxanne and Maartje are a fun loving couple from the Netherlands who met, fell in love, and decided based on their mutual obsession with travel that the nomadic lifestyle was for them. In 2017, they sold their possessions and hit the road, travelling to over 45 countries across the world celebrating all of its beauty, LGBTQ+ friendly destinations in particular.
Roxanne and Maartje are great advocates of the idea that travel is for everyone, writing about their experiences of travelling as a gay couple on their travel blog with a whole LGBTQ+ dedicated section on their website. Their social world is such a fun, friendly and informative space for anyone and everyone to be inspired to travel - we highly recommend you give them a follow.
Read on to discover more about St Christopher’s Innsiders Roxanne and Maartje, a few stories from their travels and their best piece of travel advice for those worried about taking their first leap out into the world.
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What is your dream destination?
Somehow, we always keep coming back to Thailand! It’s our dream destination as it has so much to offer; from beautiful temples, stunning nature, and fun cities and villages to super delicious food and welcoming, friendly people.
We always feel welcome in Thailand as a girl couple, which is something important for us travelling. We can be ourselves here!
And although it’s such a popular vacation destination for many people, you can still find many hidden gems in the country.
If we talk about a destination we’ve never visited: Cappadocia! It looks so magical in photos and videos that we really want to see it with our own eyes. Hopefully we can make it there in the near future.
What is an essential item you never go travelling without?
For Maartje that’s definitely her camera. I think she can forget to bring her bag with clothes on a trip, but she could never forget bringing her camera! She loves taking pictures everywhere we go.
I don’t think I have an absolute essential item I would never go travelling without except for the most important things like a passport and money. But it would be interesting to see if I can still travel without a smartphone. All the research we do is on our phone these days, and we rely on it so much!
When I was 18 years old, I travelled Asia, Australia, and New Zealand without a phone or laptop, and got all the travel information I needed from travel books like the Lonely Planet. I don’t think I can travel that way anymore.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever had on vacation?
We are huge food lovers! We especially love the local food in Thailand and Malaysia. The Indian food in Malaysia in particular is so good. We haven’t been in India yet, but we would absolutely love to.
The absolute favourite meal Maartje had was in Shanghai. Friends brought us to this restaurant, and they picked an eggplant dish for us and we loved it so much that we went back to the same place for three days in a row.
If I need to think about a meal, it’s the Greek food we had in Thailand. I know, it’s quite weird to name a Greek restaurant and meal in Thailand, while Thailand has so much good local food. But we were already on the road for over a year, mainly travelling around Asia. I hadn’t tasted tzatziki, or something similar, for a while, and it was such a joy to taste those different flavours. It was so good.
What’s your best St Christopher’s memory/experience?
We stayed at St Christopher’s Inn Village London Bridge a couple years ago and they have these colourful capsule pods. It was our first time staying at a capsule hostel and we had such a great time.
The combination of having the privacy of your own pod, the fun of staying at a hostel, and the chance to meet others is perfect.
Check out the capsule room at
What’s your funniest travel story?
This story is funny and scary at the same time (now we can laugh about it). We went hitchhiking in Japan and at some point, an older man gave us a lift. We were already waiting for a while for someone to pick us up, so we were very happy somebody stopped! So, we stepped into the car without thinking.
Maartje took the passenger seat and I went in the back. After a couple seconds, when we were already driving, I asked Maartje to look at the backseat and what was lying next to me on the chair. Next to me there was a huge saw laying on the chair. Not sure how I could have missed it when stepping inside the car, but yes, we were a little scared this elderly man was going to bring us somewhere very different then we were supposed to.
Luckily, we stayed calm, also Japan is one of the safest countries on earth. And yes, he kindly brought us to where we needed it to be. But for a split second we got scared! Not sure why that saw was laying there though…
What’s the best way to meet people when travelling?
When you stay at hostels it’s usually super easy to meet other people! Especially if the hostel organises activities like a pub crawl, game or movie night, or hosted dinner nights.
We also love meeting people through the online world. For example, if we know someone from Instagram who lives somewhere, then we just send them a message if they want to meet. Travel Facebook groups are also great.
While travelling we also use Meet-Up to go to certain activities to meet other people!
What’s your favourite way to remember a trip?
How we best remember a trip is through the photos and videos we post on Instagram. From every destination we visit we share photos and videos on our Instagram feed and in our stories. We love scrolling back every now and then to revisit our memories and trips.
It’s also convenient if someone asks us for tips about a certain place! We can just look back in our Instagram stories highlights and see everything we did.
What city will you always happily go back to, and why?
Not sure if we can only pick one! New York, Bangkok, Berlin, and Mexico City are definitely our favourite cities in the world. We could visit these cities over and over again.
New York is just such an impressive city that has so much to offer. And we have friends living here whom we always love to visit. Bangkok is just so chaotic and so different from everything here in the Netherlands, which we love. People who visit Bangkok might not love it right away, but we dare you to give it a second chance.
Berlin is our favourite city in Europe, especially during summertime. The whole city feels like a big festival. And it’s a great city for the LGBTQ+ community.
Mexico City is Maartje’s favourite city to visit! We lived here for a couple months in 2019 and had an amazing time.
What’s your best piece of travel advice?
If travel is your dream, don’t be afraid and GO TRAVEL! The first step is always the hardest. Once you’re planning, and when you’re actually travelling, there’s literally a whole new world opening up.
To some people, LGBTQ people especially, the world can still seem like a scary place. But we promise you: it also has a whole lot of BEAUTY that’s there for you to discover!