AHHH you guys, I’m SO excited to share this news with you: after four years of blood, sweat and tears we have finally made the decision. We are giving up our house and going to travel the world! And we’ll just continue to work as normal. Anyone who knows me personally, won’t be overly shocked by this step. It’s been a long time coming. I recently looked it up, and the first time I’ve got the idea was back in 2013. After a lot of fighting and slow grooming, the boyfriend is finally on board with the plans. When he mentioned this spring that he’d rather leave yesterday than tomorrow, to travel the world with his laptop, I finally knew it was time to start planning. Read this post to find out all about our travel plans, how the decision came about, and what it means for my work.
Making the decision
It’s been over four years since I first mentioned the crazy idea of packing up our electronics, and traveling the world with them – working wherever we went. I had only graduated university the year before and was trying (and failing) to make a living as a young freelancer. I wasn’t particularly happy where I was living either, so what was stopping us? Life in South-East Asia is cheap, too. Little money would bring us lots of fun experiences. The words had barely left my mouth before the boyfriend shot the hopes down. “What am I supposed to do in Asia?”, he said, referencing his work (of which he had alarmingly little of too, by the way). I felt rejected.
Four years passed, and during those years each of us felt excited about the plans at different points in time. But it was always “not the right time”. You have to understand both of us are entrepreneurs, and we LOVE our work. So when my business started taking off, and I got lots of travel opportunities for my blog and my business, the idea was put on the back burner.
It never left, though.
We have a gorgeous apartment in the city of Utrecht, but I’d never felt entirely felt at home there. Deep in my heart the wish to travel and live somewhere else always burned like an eternal flame. When I saw the opportunity to move to London for a few months I LUNGED at the opportunity, like I do whenever chocolate is on sale. The boyfriend didn’t want to join me in London. But destiny has a funny way, because the boyfriend landed a temporary editing job in London for a few weeks during the same time. That, combined with his trip to Colombia earlier this year, I think finally fully opened up his eyes to the ability to travel and work. Something I’d often been doing already (like, right now: I’m typing this from London).
After four years of yes/no, we decided on yes. If we’re going to do this, we should do it fully and wholeheartedly. No half-assery. That’s the surest way to unhappiness.
When I’m on my deathbed in eighty years, I won’t be thinking: gosh, I wish I spent more time sitting behind my laptop in my living room. I’ll be thinking: oh, I’m glad I traveled the world when I was able to.
And I am able.
What’s the deal with work then?
We’ll be traveling as digital nomads.
What is a digital nomad?
A digital nomad is someone who works location independently, by working online. I used to already call myself part time nomad, because I traveled and worked at least 1/3rd of the year, but now I’m taking it fulltime! I won’t have a house to return to so that’s VERY scary/exciting (how I feel about that changes per day haha).
I have written about what type of work I do before, but basically – running my own company allows me to travel and work as much as I want. I am the CEO of Explorista Media, a marketing & PR agency for travel brands. All the work happens online, via e-mail, Skype or Trello. So my clients won’t notice I’m away – especially since most of my clients aren’t even physically in the same country as me anyway. This means I can keep my company running as normal (and keep my income steady too), which should be nice! We’ll continue creating content, making social strategies and get PR buzz for our clients.
My travel blogs also provide a small income, though not enough to live off (nor would I want to be a fulltime blogger to be perfectly honest). But it’s a nice extra buffer to have, in the midst of a range of decisions that are uncertain enough!
My boyfriend is filmmaker, which means he’s in a slightly trickier spot. He can do his editing work anywhere, but for filming work he’ll need to find clients while we travel. He’s got amazing skills though, I’m not worried at all. And he’s up for the challenge.
We have also set up a little savings fund, but our goal is not to touch that money.
The good thing about being a digital nomad is the complete flexibility it brings. If either of us needs to be back for work, we can just get on a plane and spend some weeks back in Europe – no problem at all.
Our travel plans
Now let’s dive in to the deets you came here for.
Roughly our itinerary is divided into phase 1 and phase 2.
Phase 1 is a 2.5 month stretch that lasts until we fly home for a short break for the holidays. Phase 2 starts in January when we leave again, but we have no clue where to yet. I LOVE saying that.
Our trip starts on september 28, when we fly to Singapore, where we’ll stay for about 1.5 week.
Then we’ll move onto Thailand. We think we’ll do Bangkok, and then go to Chiang Mai, where we’ll have a base for a few weeks. We will also celebrate the lantern festival there. Chiang Mai is incredibly popular amongst digital nomads, because of the low prices and good internet so I’m sure we’ll feel right at home.
We’ll then move onto India, where we’ll travel around the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur region for two weeks, before moving down to Mumbai to attend a wedding. After the wedding we’ll escape to Goa for a week or two of relaxation and working by the beach. Then we’ll fly home for the holidays.
Please make no mistake about it – this isn’t a holiday. We plan on working like normal, with the only difference being we’ll spend our evenings on a local food market, and our weekends exploring rice fields, temples and doing rain forest hikes. Both Joris and I are entrepreneurs and we LOVE our work, so we definitely want to continue to build our legacies.
2018 is an open book. We have nothing planned yet. All I know is we’ll go to Australia to see Joris’ brother who has just moved there with his family. And I would love to go back to the US to see my family again, too. That’s it. I have an endless wish list of destinations, so I’m sure we’ll mostly decide based on where there are cheap flights, and just head wherever the wind takes us.
It’s the first time I’m traveling longer than a month, and the first time I’m traveling in Asia on my own (I’ve done a press trip to Indonesia before). Combine that with the ultimate freedom, and you can count me excited (and a bit scared!).
How far along are the preparations?
When you read this, we’ll be well on our way:
- Rent has been cancelled
- Admin has all been done
- All vaccinations are done
- The most important flights have been booked
- I’ve donated a dozen bags of clothes and shoes at the local mosque
- We’ve cleaned out every room to only hold stuff we’re meaning to store or take with us (the rest has been donated or thrown out)
- We’ve made a list of furniture to sell and to store in storage
So considering we’ve got a month to go, we’re doing well.
There’s still a number of things to be done, but those are mostly travel preparations (booking hotels, researching destinations: please share any tips you have for Singapore, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and India!). Of course, the other thing left to do is the actual moving out, but you can’t do much to prepare for that until the actual week before your move out date.
The move makes me want to call everything off, and crawl under the blankets again. But I know it will pass.
Real diehard Explorista’s will be wondering where in this story our cat Coco fits. To be honest, she was my major stumbling block in this decision. We got our cat five years ago, before Wanderlust bit me, and we never got her with the intent of giving her up. She’s my baby. However, I also don’t want to be on my deathbed thinking I missed out on a trip of a lifetime because of a cat.
So luckily she can go live with my parents for the time being. I’m super relieved about that. She’ll have a bigger house, an actual garden, and much love and care. It makes me feel so much better to know she’ll be there and I can see her whenever I’m back.
How long we’ll stay traveling for? I have no clue. It’s open ended. We may come back after six months, or we might not settle down for another five years. We’ll see. We don’t want to push ourselves and just travel for as long as we enjoy it, and our businesses allow us to. In a few years we’ll want a place to call our own again, I’m sure, so until then we’ll enjoy this lifestyle. We’ll see where life takes us.
I can’t believe I’m actually publishing this article: it feels like I’m sharing such a massive secret with all of you! Now it’s REAL. I hope you enjoy the news as much as we do. I feel this intense excitement about this step in our life, and I can’t wait for the freedom it brings with it.
If you’d like to stay up to date on our trip, then the easiest thing is to just continue to follow this website! I’ll be writing about the destinations we visit, but also about preparations for and experiences going on this journey. Of course you can also like the Facebook-page for regular personal updates, my Instagram for the best photos (and live Insta-stories), and I’ve also started posting more videos on Youtube, so I’m sure you’ll see part of our trip there too!