When Dreams Meet Reality: Living in Amsterdam as a Travel Writer & Ex-Pat

Posted on by Phuong Mai

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We have a very special P.MAI pioneer today! I recently met up with Becky Youman, an American ex-pat living in Amsterdam as a travel writer (yes, dreams do come true). Sporting her new P.MAI bag, we caught up in one of Amsterdam’s cozy brown cafes and swapped stories over a hot cup of fresh mint tea. 

She and her husband Bryan met in Mexico City over 20 years ago drinking green tequila at a St. Patrick’s Day party. Since then they have traveled and lived around the globe. After hearing her experience, I realized that being able to write your own life story is true freedom. 

Becky started her career in International Marketing, but during a stint in Chile as Jergens’ Mercosur Business Development Manager she began to write travel articles on the side. She fully transitioned to travel writing when her daughter was born. She has authored and co-authored a number of travel books, including Liquid Mexico (a travelogue about the country’s drinks) and Open Road guidebooks such as The Arizona Guide; The Chile Guide; and The Ecuador & Galapagos Guide. She is also a regular contributor to the Alaska Airlines in-flight magazine.

I asked Becky to give me a rundown on her life in Amsterdam. Here’s what she had to say:

6:00am: Up early for a grounding morning yoga practice. Depending on the time of year, my sun salutations are done looking down at the canal in front of our house either in full sunshine (summer) or under the glow of streetlamps (currently).

8:00am: After getting my daughter ready for school and waving both her and my husband off on their separate bike commutes (this is Amsterdam after all), I check in on emails and prep for my day.

9:15am: I load up my backpack with my daily essentials – notebook, phone, water bottle, and rain gear – and head out on my bike for my morning activity. Depending on the day this might be a museum visit for an article, my Dutch language class, exploration of a specific neighborhood, or just some quiet writing time.

Noon: Time to meet a friend for lunch. I stash my backpack, but grab the wristlet with my phone and wallet before heading to the table. My culinary tour of Amsterdam includes typical Dutch dishes like split pea soup and pancakes; more exotic specialties like Indonesian rijsttafel – an import from the Dutch East Indies days; mouth-watering comfort food like mussels and frites; or personal favorites that I seek out all over the globe like the muy delicioso Mexican dishes at pop-up Best Coast Tacos.

2:00pm: Run errands and stop by the grocery store as I bike through town on my way home. No need to join a gym here as I cover miles on my bike on a daily basis. Every time I slip on my backpack I am so happy that I found it. I had been on the search for the perfect “grown-up” backpack for over five years. The fancy ones were always too small or completely impractical with non-padded straps or no interior compartments, while the functional ones were just that – completely functional with no style.

3:30pm: Home in time to meet my daughter after school. Some days we are off to after-school activities (she carries the oboe, I haul the sheet music in my pack) and other days we plan fun outings like hitting the specialty shops of the 9 Straatjes – a cluster of boutiques, galleries, and cafes in one of Amsterdam’s most picturesque canal zones – or searching for treasures amongst the many stalls of the Albert Cuyp street market in the vibrant De Pijp neighborhood.

**6:30pm: **Home for family dinner, homework, and hangout time. This is also when we plan our future travel, figuring out which parts of Europe we will explore next. Amsterdam is such a great spot not only because of the high quality of daily life, but also as the hopping off point for easy trips to so many different countries.  In the past year alone we have been lucky enough to explore Malta, Italy, Spain, Croatia, France, Belgium, Germany, and England, as well as most of the provinces in the Netherlands.

10:00pm: Read for a bit before bed. There are so many fabulous books, both fiction and non-fiction, to help me gain insight into this culturally rich country. Some of my favorites are Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto,The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal, the Grijpsta & de Gier mystery novels, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and the hilarious tongue-in-cheek cultural guide Stuff Dutch People Like by Colleen Geske.

Her description of Amsterdam makes my heart ache with nostalgia. We’re so glad to have met such a brilliant and classy lady, and love knowing that her P.MAI bag has become her newest travel companion.  image


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We have a very special P.MAI pioneer today! I recently met up with Becky Youman, an American ex-pat living in Amsterdam as a travel writer (yes, dreams do come true). Sporting her new P.MAI bag, we caught up in one of Amsterdam’s cozy brown cafes and swapped stories over a hot cup of fresh mint tea. 

She and her husband Bryan met in Mexico City over 20 years ago drinking green tequila at a St. Patrick’s Day party. Since then they have traveled and lived around the globe. After hearing her experience, I realized that being able to write your own life story is true freedom. 

Becky started her career in International Marketing, but during a stint in Chile as Jergens’ Mercosur Business Development Manager she began to write travel articles on the side. She fully transitioned to travel writing when her daughter was born. She has authored and co-authored a number of travel books, including Liquid Mexico (a travelogue about the country’s drinks) and Open Road guidebooks such as The Arizona Guide; The Chile Guide; and The Ecuador & Galapagos Guide. She is also a regular contributor to the Alaska Airlines in-flight magazine.

I asked Becky to give me a rundown on her life in Amsterdam. Here’s what she had to say:

6:00am: Up early for a grounding morning yoga practice. Depending on the time of year, my sun salutations are done looking down at the canal in front of our house either in full sunshine (summer) or under the glow of streetlamps (currently).

8:00am: After getting my daughter ready for school and waving both her and my husband off on their separate bike commutes (this is Amsterdam after all), I check in on emails and prep for my day.

9:15am: I load up my backpack with my daily essentials – notebook, phone, water bottle, and rain gear – and head out on my bike for my morning activity. Depending on the day this might be a museum visit for an article, my Dutch language class, exploration of a specific neighborhood, or just some quiet writing time.

Noon: Time to meet a friend for lunch. I stash my backpack, but grab the wristlet with my phone and wallet before heading to the table. My culinary tour of Amsterdam includes typical Dutch dishes like split pea soup and pancakes; more exotic specialties like Indonesian rijsttafel – an import from the Dutch East Indies days; mouth-watering comfort food like mussels and frites; or personal favorites that I seek out all over the globe like the muy delicioso Mexican dishes at pop-up Best Coast Tacos.

2:00pm: Run errands and stop by the grocery store as I bike through town on my way home. No need to join a gym here as I cover miles on my bike on a daily basis. Every time I slip on my backpack I am so happy that I found it. I had been on the search for the perfect “grown-up” backpack for over five years. The fancy ones were always too small or completely impractical with non-padded straps or no interior compartments, while the functional ones were just that – completely functional with no style.

3:30pm: Home in time to meet my daughter after school. Some days we are off to after-school activities (she carries the oboe, I haul the sheet music in my pack) and other days we plan fun outings like hitting the specialty shops of the 9 Straatjes – a cluster of boutiques, galleries, and cafes in one of Amsterdam’s most picturesque canal zones – or searching for treasures amongst the many stalls of the Albert Cuyp street market in the vibrant De Pijp neighborhood.

**6:30pm: **Home for family dinner, homework, and hangout time. This is also when we plan our future travel, figuring out which parts of Europe we will explore next. Amsterdam is such a great spot not only because of the high quality of daily life, but also as the hopping off point for easy trips to so many different countries.  In the past year alone we have been lucky enough to explore Malta, Italy, Spain, Croatia, France, Belgium, Germany, and England, as well as most of the provinces in the Netherlands.

10:00pm: Read for a bit before bed. There are so many fabulous books, both fiction and non-fiction, to help me gain insight into this culturally rich country. Some of my favorites are Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City by Russell Shorto,The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal, the Grijpsta & de Gier mystery novels, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and the hilarious tongue-in-cheek cultural guide Stuff Dutch People Like by Colleen Geske.

Her description of Amsterdam makes my heart ache with nostalgia. We’re so glad to have met such a brilliant and classy lady, and love knowing that her P.MAI bag has become her newest travel companion.  image


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