While browsing through Instagram, we recently came across an extraordinary woman from the Netherlands who travels around Europe with her Lotus Stargazer tent. Marie-Louise is a single mother of two whose passion for travelling and a healthy lifestyle is both riveting and admirable. In this short interview, she reveals to us some insights about her Instagram channel @stargazer.stories and why travelling is not always as relaxing as it seems to be.
If you are a regular reader of Lotus Belle blog posts, you may already be aware that we love placing the spotlight on our various tent models and amazing glamping sites across Europe who use our products. But, as we genuinely enjoy gaining greater insight into our community, let us know if you want to share your Lotus Belle story! Send us a message via Instagram, Facebook or email and get in touch with us!
Let's move on...
Marie Louise, thank you for your time, even though you seem busy glamping these days. Was it always like this, or is “glamping” something you just recently discovered?
When I was a child, I never went camping. My holidays were usually spent in a bungalow, but when I became a mother myself, I wanted to go camping with my two kids. In the summer of 2018, I booked a couple of nights in a rental Lotus Belle glamping tent at an alpaca farm. That was the first time I came in touch with “glamping” but it was such a great experience, that I started thinking how great it would be to have my very own Lotus Belle – a gorgeous big tent with enough room for me and my two kids. However, as a single mother, it would take a while to save up enough money, so I just postponed this decision. The following year, my kids urged me to spend another holiday at the alpaca farm but unfortunately, the owner told me that they were going to stop their campsite business. This was my chance - I asked them if they were going to sell the used tents, and fortunately, they did! This is the story of how I became a “glamper” and a lucky owner of a Lotus Belle Stargazer with the incredible size of 5 meters, as you can see on my Instagram channel.
Yes, you seem pretty busy posting pictures. So, you decided to dedicate an entire Instagram channel to your newly purchased Lotus Belle?
Somehow yes, but I already had an Instagram account about healthy lifestyles and plant-based eating which I also used for my travel pictures, but since everything was too mixed up, I decided to start a second channel for my travel adventures. It is sometimes funny though, because while being so wrapped up in my “glamping-bubble”, I even forget to take pictures. But that’s the beauty of spending time outside, you are so immersed with nature that your phone becomes useless and the surroundings the most precious thing on earth.
How often are you hitting the road?
This and last year, I have been really lucky to be able to travel more. All in the Netherlands, of course, because of Covid but still quite different campsites, from a large one next to a lake to one by the sea and small ones in the forest. I usually stay somewhere for one or two weeks, so there’s enough time to rest and also explore the area. This year I already managed 7 camping trips and I think I will not stop until winter! Yes, I love glamping during the cold season, even if I have to shovel snow in front of the tent. Some people do look and wonder, but I’ve never been cold. Rain is something else, and even though the tent is completely waterproof, I am considering to buy a porch, that I can still sit outside. Which might be better for my kids as well because half of the time my 13-year-old boy and my 10-year-old girl join me on trips, the rest of the time I usually go by myself enjoying nature, reading, and writing.
The tent looks four times bigger than you. Can you easily set it up alone?
It's good to have a helping hand, but it is actually so easy, and basically done within an hour. When I take the poles out, it also fits exactly in the back of my car with many other things and equipment I usually take with me.
And what does your glamping package look like?
In my house, I have a closet in the hallway where I store most of my camping equipment. So, it’s easy to pack and just go. The tent itself is stored under my bed because my house is rather small. Beside the tent, I always pack my collapsible camp-beds because I hate sleeping on an air-mattress. Another benefit is that I can keep the tent tidy this way as I can store lots of stuff underneath it, like for example the kid's toys and clothes. Another important item is my lovely picnic-baskets for storage, as well as a basket, filled with decoration stuff like fake plants and solar lights. But not only that, I also take lots of pillows, blankets and plaids with me to make it even more cosy. When I know that I will visit a commercial campsite with electricity, I also take my crock-pot multi-cooker with me which has an oven-function, meaning that I can bake fresh bread in the morning!
You seem to be well-organised. Do you have any recommendations for other people for longer or even short-term trips?
For longer camping-trips, I would recommend an even bigger Lotus Belle, no matter the model. And don't worry, the canvas is robust, I have even camped in a storm near the northern sea coast. Really, no problem for this tent! For weekend trips, I would suggest taking an inflatable tent. I also consider buying the smaller Air Bud for the trips on my own, since it’s less heavy and easier to put up. But beside travelling, I can just advise you to take good care of the tent, clean it well and store it dry. The better you do this, the longer you can enjoy the tent. But to be honest, this can be quite a hassle! Sometimes, it can take a day of cleaning when it’s filthy! For example, I have to clean it at home since I have no garden, so I always try to pack my tent when it’s dry. Otherwise, I have to let it dry in my living-room, which is 4 m by 5 m… smaller than my tent! And, be prepared to have lots of people stopping to admire the tent and asking questions about it!!
That sounds fun, did you expect that in the beginning?
When I bought the tent, I knew it was really different from any other tent in the Netherlands, so I told my kids that I suspected many people would admire the tent and would want to see the inside. They didn’t believe me… Needless to say, they had to admit I was right! That brought them to the idea of searching for some driftwood on the beach and making a sign with my Instagram-account on it. They thought it would help to get more followers on @stargazer.stories!
After all those trips, you know the tent by heart already. Is there anything we can improve?
The thing I Iike the most about this tent is the space you have and the huge windows not only at the top of my Stargazer but also the side windows. But in the future, I would like to see an inflatable tent with a Stargazer roof, and doors made of PVC, so you can still enjoy the surroundings when it rains.
Have you decided what your next travel destination will be?
My next destination is Camping Buitenland in Drenthe, in the Netherlands. It’s a campsite with a festival-vibe. There’s music, theatre, yoga and more things like that. I’m staying on the solo-field there, since it’s a part of the camping where you are only allowed to camp on your own. So, you can enjoy your peace and quiet without other people yelling early in the morning.