Looking back, 10 years later: full-time travel while modeling

Last Updated on by Charlotte van de Sande

High heels, dresses, skinny jeans and a portfolio full of photos. The content of my suitcase looked completely different ten years ago than what’s in my backpack now. In this blog, I look back on my first time travelling full time: when I did modelling abroad.


My very first blog: waarbenjij.nu

We are back in the Netherlands for two weeks, autumn has started. It rains a lot and in the evening it is quite cold. Something in the air reminds me a lot of one of my very first solo trips: to rainy London. And what is the coincidence, when I take a look at my old blog https://charlottevandesande.waarbenjij.nu (yes I already liked writing many years before we started Charlotte Plans a Trip) I see that it is exactly 10 years ago that I boarded the Eurostar train on 24 September. Direction: London.

While the rain is ticking softly against the windows of the home of the parents of Ries in Bilthoven, I read all the blogs I wrote ten years before. The words bring back the feelings, images and many memories. What an exciting, fun and sometimes lonely time. I got the most beautiful clothes to wear, got to work with great photographers and stylists and never knew where I would be the following week. How different is travelling now!


↠ This blog is a diary blog: a piece in which I share personal things. Do you want to read more of these diary blogs? Then click here.


Instead of going to college I travelled through Europe while modelling!

With my VWO diploma (i.e. high school diploma) fresh in my pocket and my study books in Latin slammed shut for good. I am not going to study, unlike all of my peers. At seventeen years old I still have all the time. So in consultation with my Dutch modelling agency (Max Models) and my parents, I decided to work for one year full-time as a model before setting off to University. I have been modelling since I was fourteen, was accidentally scouted via the social media site Hyves. And after three years of being able to take on assignments only during the weekends and holidays and work mainly in the Netherlands, a whole new world opens up to me.

After a nice summer, in which I got a new boyfriend: my best friend Ries, and went to London and Barcelona to visit local agencies, I first leave for Madrid. Carrying a large suitcase and a huge weekend bag, at least 25 kilos (how different than now!). I have a wonderful time in Madrid. Ries has just started studying here and it is so nice to be with him. The weather is warm and there are many castings and assignments for me in Spain. Because most of the models here are Spanish, I stand out with my height and blonde hair. And, so I have different shoots for magazines, I do catalog work and visit a lot of magazines on go sees.Charlotte Madrid

Off to London

After three great weeks, my office in the Netherlands tells me it’s time to go to London. I fly back to the Netherlands, pack warmer clothes and then take the train to London.

Once in my modelling apartment, I quickly learn how safe and warm the Madrid and Dutch modelling world I have been in until then is. London is a bit different, with mean Bulgarian girls snapping or ignoring me and 16-year-old Finnish girls with hidden bulimia.

“I can get along well with my Finnish roomie, but she doesn’t do much else but lie in bed, eat and talk on MSN. She is an example that you don’t really want to have as a model. Just 16 and has been away for 5 months, has not seen her parents for 5 months !! She is more than skinny, really skinny and eats all day, I really hear grinding jaws all day long.”

Charlotte and Ries in London 2009

Castings and roadbooks

Soon I am in the rhythm. During the week I race through the city to go from casting to casting. You can see acasting as an audition. With a little luck, they will take some photos or you will get a callback. With a call back you are through to the next round and they want to see you again. If you then come “in option” then they have indicated that they are interested in working with you and you must keep the shoot day free. On average, only 1 in 10 options continues.

Ten years ago I didn’t have a smartphone with Google Maps, so an old-fashioned roadbook is a standard item in my bag. After a few weeks, it is completely scribbled with routes and I have indicated in pencil on the maps on how to walk from metro- or bus stations. The castings take place throughout all the outskirts of London. In no time I know the city like the back of my hand.

All castings, go-sees, callbacks and options have the same goal: getting jobs. An assignment. For a fashion show, a shoot for a magazine, campaign or beauty brand. London is a difficult market but I am lucky enough to score a number of jobs. And that’s what I do it all for, I simply love shooting! Create something beautiful with a super motivated team!

Spending hours at the Starbucks

During the weekend I walk through the parks and beautiful neighbourhoods of London, visit the free museums and spend hours in Starbucks. Because the model apartment is often completely empty, a Starbucks with its large armchairs and jazz music feels a lot more homely. No matter how cool the modelling work is, sometimes it’s pretty lonely.

“Then I will just go out on my own, and talk to many friends and family via Skype and MSN while hoping for lots of work and castings during the day. So this morning I closed the door behind me and went to Starbucks to catch up with some reading. After that, I went to the Natural History Museum, there are so many museums here and most of them are free, really cool! “


To Madrid, Hamburg and Paris

The following months I keep commuting up and down between London and Madrid. Secretly the time in hot Spain is a lot more fun. Being together with Ries and working with the southern European mentality is also a lot more relaxed. People are warm and castings are usually a party.

“At half past two this afternoon I had to be present for the shoot and it was so much fun! Only ……………… ..soooo hot!! Shoting in the middle of the summer in Madrid with fur coats and winter clothing, pfffff. Sometimes it’s hard work, modeling. “

It does not stop at Madrid, I stay in Hamburg (a less successful success due to a teenage pimples attack) and Paris. And I try to be in Amsterdam for fashion weeks. It’s so nice to see all the other Dutch models again and share our experiences.Modelling Madrid


After one year, I am off to University!

It is an exciting year in which I learn a lot, visit the most beautiful places, wear amazing clothes and meet unusual people. But also a year in which I come to the conclusion that I really want to go to university and that a having a relationship while being far away from each other and living in completely different worlds, is tough. And so in the summer of 2010, I start my study Economics while I continue to work part-time as a model for a few more years. A good combination.

Now, ten years later I am very happy with the choices made by seventeen-year-old Charlotte. Because of the modelling work, I got the chance to see a lot of the world at a young age and this sparked the traveling flame within me. I don’t regret a thing from that cool and sometimes tough year. But the trips that I make now are much more fun!Charlotte en Ries in Madrid


Curious about my blog from ten years ago?

I have always enjoyed writing. Ten years ago I kept a blog almost daily. Funny to read back so much later. My writing style has changed a lot, I notice. Click here to read my ten-year-old blogs, I am curious to see if you recognize me and how I write! At least one thing has not changed, ten years ago I thought it was great to read comments under the blogs and I still think so today. So leave something behind if you feel like it!

And then it’s now time to pack my ultralight NOMAD backpack! No suitcase and weekend bag of 25+ kilos. Just a backpack where I put no more than 15 kilos of luggage in!

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