And I guess this is it. This is my first post and like a fine wine hopefully they will improve with age!
All you need to do is see the Facebook adds in your timeline or even just Google ‘travel blog’ and there are hundreds of blogs out there about people who have taken that giant leap to give up their ordinary life and set their selves on the path of travel. This is something that I have even seen through my own travels and the sheer amount of people who seem to be travelling the world, or their respective part of it, and a hundred different reasons as to why.
The difference is most of those blogs ‘promise’ to show you how to do it yourself and either travel the world for free or by signing up to their course you can quit your day job and earn six figures a month… hold on I should stop writing now and go sign up!
Not that I don’t doubt that the legitimacy of those sites but I always feel like they are selling an inspiration and a promise of something that they can’t give to you. Hopefully the posts I come up with will have more of a realistic edge about them, which will either give you possibilities of how things can be done or how I have physically done them myself. Because whichever way you look at it I have given up everything to travel, and so has my wife. So far we have no regrets, and I don’t think we ever will, as it was never a spur of the moment choice.
Together we had an income almost double the average household income for the UK, we worked at least 130 hours a week and maybe saw each other for a few hours on a Sunday. And it was the first time in my life that I never really had to worry about money, we could essentially buy what we wanted, go where we wanted and do what we wanted; as long as it fit around work. Materialistically we were set, but emotionally we were far from it, and back in February 2015 we decided we needed to make a change. We weren’t sure how or what but something big needed to happen.
We looked at our lives and spent months trying to figure out what we needed to do, and it was only when another round of redundancies cropped onto the horizon with my employer – which by now were annual – and in this round my job role was removed and replaced with a new title and more work, I felt life was trying to tell me something. I applied and was successful in gaining redundancy and it kick started a plan to set ourselves up for long-term travel.
We had already figured out that some of our fondest memories are from our travels, having already been across 4 continents. We decided that we would take our savings and try and make the dream a full time one. We have planned out two initial stages, the first one was to campervan through Europe and the second to take the train from London through Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China all the way to Saigon in Vietnam, and then on to spend a couple of years in New Zealand.
Both of us have bucket lists, mine is in a little brown leather book that I have had for years. And in them was to build a camper from scratch, which financially and for pure enjoyment made sense. So I set about finding the right van which happened to be a 2010 Renault Master which now has vinyl compass artwork on the outside, 4 berths and 4 seats, fully functioning kitchen with fridge, sink microwave, hob, and even a working toilet! It has been a labor of love and through lots of help with our friends and family (Billy, Robert, Lena, Kaleb, Jim, Glenys, Lewis, Steph) we were able to make it a reality.
I will post in more detail about how we have built the van, and even though I sound like an admiring relative, I am proud of it. Electrically it is fully self-sufficient through a solar panel and split charge relay system and we have not had to use electricity from any site in nearly 3 months. The insulation has also kept us warm and toasty in the Arctic winds of Nordkapp and Hammerfest in Norway. It has been our home for a few months now through France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and a few more still to come.
The experiences of cycling in Amsterdam, competing in Ironman Copenhagen, hiking through Norway, visiting Santa’s Grotto in Finland and more solemnly the stark reminders of what war can do in Latvia and Lithuania, have been life affirming. They have made me realize this was also the right choice to travel through the world and take on new challenges everyday that come through doing it.
We are now 12 countries into our Campervan tour, and I am now sat in a little underground Laundromat café in Krakow, Poland happy that I have finished my first post and planning out how I am going to continue to share my adventures with you all.