Some days we wonder if all the work we put into writing our blogposts is worth the effort, because traveling on a low budget is already a big task in itself and takes up a lot of time. It’s not so hard to motivate ourselves to write though, because we are doing what we love to do. And you never know, maybe one day we can inspire someone in this world to do what he or she loves to do.
Here is the good news; a few days ago someone reached out to us, and yes, she was inspired and had some questions. With her consent I’m answering her questions in a blog post.
Thanks Cécile for sharing your thoughts!
Dear Tim, Val and lewis,
I’m a 22 years old Belgian girl, and by coincidence I found your website a few weeks ago, since then I am reading/watching your blog/instagram/ Pinterest/ Facebook, like almost every two days. Your experience inspires me. I studied like everyone does, I did student jobs all the time, I went to parties, in fact I just followed society. But since almost 2 years now, my shyness drift away, and I started to explore the real me, and to do what I love and not what society wants, now I am painting, drawing, sleeping on the roof of the car with good music, go running in the mountains for self-satisfaction (they aren’t big mountains in Belgium, but we called like that :p) .
I thought that my dream was working in a multinational enterprise, living in a big city, having parties all the time. Now I have it and I can’t stop thinking about the world, the nature and the culture I want to discover. Why do we oblige ourselves to do everything like society does? I have the feeling due to society; I always have to wait to do things, like adopting a dog, go traveling, go running etc. ( people always tells you: it’s not the right time..)
So I have a few questions, how did you prepare yourself to start this adventure?
What made you decide to start the adventure, when did you tell yourself: this is the moment?
I hope you could give me some good advice??
Good luck with your adventure! I’m admiring you guys!
PS: I really want to quit my job NOW and start my adventure tomorrow!!
How did you prepare yourself to start this adventure?
Preparation is not my favourite part of a journey. Most of all because I don’t like to plan. I love to keep as many options open as possible. And in order to do so you have to be able to travel without a big need for security and with an open mind.
‘Open minded preparation’ starts with choosing your destination in a different way. Why not just choose a continent or country and see where you end up? And what about throwing an arrow onto a world map and letting fate pick your destination? Do you even want to choose a destination? Why not let every experience along the way guide you to your next destination? Or why not start right outside your doorstep and explore your own country?
After finding an answer to the above questions it’s time to answer the following question. Do you want to travel alone or with a friend? If it’s your first time traveling I would always recommend to do so alone. Traveling alone makes you so much more open to new experiences. Instead of arriving somewhere with a friend and enjoying time together you’ll have to walk up to strangers everywhere you go. You’ll have to solve problems on your own. Although you’ll never really feel alone with all the fellow travellers and lovely locals out there.
Or are you thinking about traveling with your boyfriend? It might be the best decision you ever made but it will also be the most intense relationship test ever. Traveling will help you to get to know each other better than ever before. You might love what you get to know or you might discover that he’s just not the one. Be prepared for this scenario and don’t be scared if you have to turn this relationship test into a solo journey. Everything happens for a reason and you might end up back together after some time apart.
Another important question to ask yourself is: How am I going to reach my destination? Flying there might be an easy option, but what about traveling by boat? Sailing boats often need an extra crew member and take inexperienced sailors along in return for free meals and a bed. What about hitchhiking? This will give you the opportunity to meet amazing people, who might even take you to their lovely homes at the end of the trip or drop you off at a magical place you never heard of before. If hitchhiking scares you you might be more interested in ride sharing, which enables you to get in touch with the driver before you leave. There are endless possibilities. There is one thing you might want to ask yourself though. How can you get to your destination by leaving the smallest ecological footprint possible?
After you’ve decided how you’re going to get to your destination, your family will probably start asking you how long you will go away for. Maybe you only need a few weeks away from home, or just a few days to get some fresh air before you continue your job. But what if you’re planning on quitting your job? Is there still a time-limit then? Do you want to keep renting your apartment? Do you want to keep your job? Or do you want to give yourself the opportunity to find new places to work and live in? The only ties you should never break are the ones with family and your closest friends. They’re something we’re all blessed with, making us feel home again even when that’s all there is left to return to.
What about your budget? How long can you travel for? Like we show, even with 9 euros a day you can travel around the world. Maybe you want more luxury. In that case you might have to work somewhere abroad at some point. This also means you will need a work & travel permit to legally work in Western countries. If you haven’t turned 30 yet this is very easy to get. By paying an average of 150 euros, you will be able to work anywhere you like for a year. If you are unlucky and already in your thirties, what about being self-employed? Designing websites, photography, freelance work, etc? Working abroad has been a great experience for me. There is no better way to get to know the local community while living in a nice house with roommates from all over the world and saving money to get to your next dream destination.
Preparation also means informing yourself of the possible health risks and choosing the proper insurance. This depends on the countries you will be visiting. During our year of traveling in Europe we always had a small medical kit in our backpacks. For our trip to Central-America this wasn’t enough though. We needed vaccines as well as Malaria pills for the worst case scenarios. In order to minimise our chemical intake we decided to take as few vaccines as possible. We decided not to get the Hepatitis-B and -C vaccines and only had the Hepatitis-A vaccin, mainly because we weren’t planning on having sex with someone outside of our relationship. We also had a Tetanus shot in case we would cut ourselves or have an accident, something that seemed very probable. We are not taking Malaria pills though but we will take them as soon as one of us would be diagnosed with the disease.
Last but not least, what do you need to take with you? One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is the importance of a good backpack. You’ll be carrying your home on your back, so it’s important that this is comfortable or at least doable. Make sure that the hip belt is very wide and strong so you take most of the weight off your shoulders. With the backpack I have now, even though I’m carrying 17kg, I barely feel it in my shoulders. Also, never buy a backpack online without trying it on first. Ask professional help in an outdoor shop and put 15kg in the backpack while trying it on. As to what goes inside this pack, all fellow travellers will agree with me that it’s very easy to overpack. Only take what is really important. Everything you can buy on the road, I can’t think of anything you can’t besides prescription lenses, can be left at home. We for example even managed to find a new Macbook charger in a little town here in Guatemala. The best things to take along are those that don’t need much care. Like woollen clothing, it rarely needs to be washed as it doesn’t starts to smell easily. Don’t take a whole library with you, fellow travellers love to exchange books. If your budget allows it, buy an Ipad mini, it’s the perfect size for traveling and it will hold all of your books, music, games and so much more.
Traveling without electronics might seem tempting, making you spend less time on Facebook and such, but I would not recommend it. It’s nice to be able to stay in touch with family and friends from back home. It also enables you to Google places so you don’t have to carry heavy guide books and it stops you from paying the insanely high prices in Internet cafes. Just enjoy technological evolution and if you don’t want to hear anything from your parents for two weeks, just put it somewhere deep in your backpack. If they complain just remind them of the time when they had to sent letters to their parents as proof that they were still alive.
What made you decide to start the adventure, when did you tell yourself: this is the moment?
The moment I met Tim I told him I wasn’t done traveling around the world and would love to continue doing so with him. He had some ties back home in Belgium, so we decided to stay in Europe and run a hostel during our first summer together in France. I remember being on our road trip back home from France and we were brainstorming about our future. We had been so amazed over the summer by all the incredible projects that are happening all over the world and constantly reach us via the Internet and Facebook. We couldn’t grasp why these organisations didn’t form a community with the help of some kind of platform where they could share their ideas and create many more together. There were so many people out there with great ideas, helping to create a better and sustainable world. It might not be possible to change the world by ourselves, but together we can.
So that’s why in September 2012 we walked out of doorsteps with two cameras and a big idea. We were going to make our dream come true and create the platform, not only online but also offline, this project was called Jackflap. A few months later, after 2000 kilometers of hitchhiking and many inspiring adventures we had to let go of our dream. It was just too big for us. Funny enough, only two days ago, here in Guatemala, we visited Project Nuevo Mundo. They are doing exactly what we had in mind (an interview with them will be posted soon). They were smarter and found twenty other likeminded people who are helping them to realise their project. Even though our plan didn’t work out, we didn’t stop our journey and kept following our dreams. That’s why we created Let’s be Nomads. We wanted to show the world that everything is possible, even with only nine euros a day.
Now, after one year and a half of being Nomads we slowed our pace down a bit. We’re staying at most places for more than a month in order to work on our new plan. I would love to tell you more about this but I have to keep it a secret for a little while longer. I can promise you that it will be a big adventure though. Just as life promises us; as long as we keep following the flow of life and do what our heart tells us we will flow literally from one adventure into the next.
When did I tell myself this is the moment? When everybody wasn’t agreeing with the idea, when life back home didn’t make me excited anymore and when it seemed like the world was asking me to hunt for all of it’s unknown treasures. Like you said; there will always be an excuse not do something. But, for me there are always a lot more reasons to do exactly the opposite, to follow your dreams and do what you love to do. The worst that can happen is that you make mistakes, but like my father always said on the ski slopes ‘After ice comes snow’. Just like there will always be sunshine after the rain. So packs your bags and jump. You will fall and you will learn, but you’ll never have the regrets of not trying.
Let’s be Nomads!