The one year mark and how it changed our perspective
What do you think happens when you let go of everyday life, leave the “rat race,” and start living the dream, traveling in a big bus with online income, sunshine, and beaches? Read on to see how it changed our perspectives.
It is Tuesday morning. I am in the front seat of my van. It is raining. My s-key is dysfunctional, which is probably one of the most annoying keys on the keyboard to have trouble with. I am a bit cold. It is summer in Denmark, but at the moment, the cold version.
Everyone in my family is sleeping, even my amazing husband. He worked half the night.
The van is parked outside my sister's house in Copenhagen, my hometown. The schools just opened yesterday, and I can hear the highway in the back. Because of the rain. It is very early.
We have become digital nomads. Such fancy words. But true. We have been out of the one-base+office-financed life for a bit more than a year now. The one-year mark did something to us. Life does something to us.
There is a spider working up and down from the front window toward my computer and back. It is a silent and slow morning.
So, what changed after one year?
Before we embarked on this journey, this lifestyle change, I would have loved to know what it feels like. It is easy to imagine how great it is to go to the beach on a Tuesday morning and enjoy new countries and the company of each other. But the nuances? How is the everyday life unfolding? And the personal development: How does it change you, and do you like it?
How everyday life changed and surprised us.
The big change came in groups. The most important being the freedom of my husband. He actually loves to work on his projects, so it i not freedom from working; it is freedom to do it from wherever he wants to. Having him around all the time has been the one big thing. It is amazingly right to be a family all the time, sharing life from morning to morning, all days of the week.
Another huge change is the no-base lifestyle. Nomadic life changes location often, and not belonging would have been huge. But actually, this is not what happened. As we planned for the change, we realized a full-time travel life with backpacks would be too base-less for us, at least in the beginning, and we chose a bus conversion.
Having a tiny house with us makes all of the difference. Our bus is 10,5 meters long, shiny red and very old. There is no way we sneak through a village or park anonymously anywhere.
We are noticed wherever we go. And welcome. This is the unexpected part. The journey has not been from one new place to another but more from one invitation to the next. We have been so welcome and quickly built new friendships and, therefore, new homes in most of the places we have been.
And the bus life works. When we go into the bus and close the doors, it is like a capsule. Our capsule. Our home feeling, privacy, peace, and co-working life are perfectly restored, even if the bus is parked in a huge parking lot in the middle of a large city or between two cargo trucks on a highway rest place in Germany. It does not matter. Inside the red bus, we are home, and we are family.
As we are home inside the bus, and welcome and appreciated, where we park it, it is not a no-base lifestyle, but more of a multi-base lifestyle, and we flourish.
Embrace change – embrace multi-perspective
Sometimes, I long for the safety of a villa-house-based life. The false belief that the future is predictable, the “please press repeat” every New Year's Eve, the rhythmic life of a home-based life. Sometimes, it makes me feel awkward not to be able to answer when people ask where we are going and when. Or when we are planning to go home? What is home anyway?
It is all conditioning. We are from a culture where most elements force us to stay in one place. The schools, the workplace, the tax system, the insurance. We have to live in a home, have an address, and an everyday life in order to have a predictable life.
But no life is predictable.
And even if it is, I don’t want that life.
So, we live a life with many perspectives. We might go for a 3-month Paris stay, we might buy in finca in Catalunia and do a farming project, we might slow travel around the Iberic Peninsula, we might, we might just flow and breathe with no Great Plan. We will probably go to South America to see a full solar eclipse in 2021, but in reality, we do not really know.
Recently, my husband asked me if I was having an anxiety issue when I proposed to plan where to stay tomorrow. That was, to him, a clear sign of stress. Why would we not just stay in the moment?
In this particular situation, it was because we were to visit some friends, and I found it practical to let them know in advance – but I do see his point. The moment. This is all we have got.
Intention based life
The multi-base and multi-perspective life makes us choose hard. Since we are often in a location only for a short time, it is clear we have to choose what is truly important. Is it today the beach, the church, the people, the cooking? If it is all of the above, how do we make it happen? Is it the storytelling or the new friends or the studying or the walk in the forest? Is it the organic market or the early night, the stars late at night, or the board games in the shadow?
When we get up in the morning, we plan a bit for the day based on where we are and how we feel. It is an important morning routine and would be beneficial for everyone. Living the nomadic lifestyle just makes it clear we have to do it. And the healthy, intentional choice of what is important today makes life very clear. It simply makes us happy.
Stay mindful, stay awake, and stay present.
Even with the plans made in the morning, we have to keep our hearts open and stay mindful. The context might change, the needs might develop, someone might arrive, or something might emerge when we walk around the next corner, and we have to be awake and ready to be ready to change our plans if it feels right.
The same story as I have told so often: When you are clear on your intentions and values, life becomes quite easy. It is not hard to let go of something in favor of something else if we have already chosen which element is the most important to us.
And since we often don’t know if we are coming back to a location, we stay mindful and present where we are. Recently, we were in Kristianstad in Sweden to see a church built by Christian the Fourth of Denmark (when this part of Sweden was Danish). The church was amazing, by the way. And being there, irrationally on a day of LOADs of other projects, was the right thing to do. We enjoyed the architecture and the divine presence, said our prayers, and took our photos, and it was an amazing experience.
Most other children were in school, and we were very aware of how happy our lifestyle made us.
A few hours later, we sat on the terrace of my biological father’s house in Sout of Sweden, looking at the ocean, listening to the birds, knowing we only had about an hour to enjoy ourselves together, knowing we would probably not be back for about ten months. Is it sad? Nope. It is mindful. We take in all the love, all the presence, the small stories from his life, the questions and answers, and the color of the ocean.
Mindfully and aware, we enter and exit situations. And it does make us happy, it does make us alive, it does make us thrive.
Slow is key
Now, I see the children walk to school from the front seat of the van. The public school is right down the road. Two of my children just got out of the van bed and into the house; one is still sleeping. My husband is out jogging, and I have had 2 cups of coffee and a conversation on electric cars and solar panels with my sister's husband, and another conversation about tickling with my youngest niece.
I have a lot on my to-do list for today, and my point on slow is not on doing less as such. The one-year full-time travel mark we passed in July in Tarascon, Southern France, made us think about the big picture of our travels.
Very quickly, we learned to travel slow. In the beginning and before we even left, we thought we would go a thousand places (not literally), but quickly, we learned we like to stay longer. We like to build relations; we like to learn local stories; we like to learn languages; to spend time reading, blogging, and singing.
Slow traveling is staying in one place longer than needed to make friends and to let our souls breathe.
So, how does it feel? It feels very alive. It feels very right. It feels like we remember things our common modern culture has made us forget, and it feels like we are on track. Sometimes it is crazy confronting, and I wish I sat in front of a TV with a Netflix series and a bag of potato chips – but then again. I don’t. I do not wish that. Just sometimes, for a second, I want to not think, not feel, not decide. Sometimes I am very tired.
But the answer is not to numb ourselves; the answer is to take a break. Look at the ocean, remember what is truly important, and be grateful for the luxury of the horizon and the fresh air on our faces, the clean water in the bottle, and the organic veggies in the back of the van. Each other. Love.
Do you have to travel?
No. You don't. All of the above can be done with one base.
But I am a gypsy. A traveller. A nomad. You would have to tie me to the couch or the house, I can not sit still. It is not for me. I need to know what is around the next corner; I need to go where my heart is guiding me. My goal is to find home bases all over the world, not to be a tourist in a hundred places. This feels right.
What is right for you? Do you know? Do you dare go look for the answer? No matter the current situation, this is the crucial part. To dare to reflect and feel, to dare to know what is truly important, so letting go of everything else becomes easy, and life becomes real.
A comment on this article from my old website:
In the meantime, I let myself inspire by those who have taken the step. Thank you. 💗
Where are we now?
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