Home » How we started traveling fulltime, what we learned and how it changed us
How we started traveling fulltime, what we learned and how it changed us
After three years of traveling full-time we have made so many beautiful memories and learned a lot along the way. From personal development to a stronger relationship, business wise as Digital Nomads, but most important.. traveling fulltime made us feel alive more than ever before!
It was 8-8-2018 when our full-time travel journey started with a one way ticket to Asia, Bali. We’d been officially one week “homeless” at that date because a few days before we’d put our signatures under the contract of our sold house in The Netherlands. We felt literally lighter because of all the materialistic stuff we sold.
Months of preparation has gone into it before we could set off for this full time travel adventure. This whole process was very educational in every way. We had to jump into the unknown and let go of most of our materialistic stuff that we’ve been collecting over the years together. In this personal story I will share with you what we’ve learned along the way. Where we came from, what made us decide to sell everything and travel fulltime while working on our business. Our personal experience with the ups and downs, how it changed us and tips for you how to prepare for a long term travel adventure.
Why did we started traveling fulltime?
One of the questions we get asked often is why we decided to travel fulltime and sell everything we’ve had. Let’s first do a little recap to how our daily lives were before we changed it into fulltime traveling.
Atiba and I met each other in July 2012 in Rotterdam. We both had a 40 hour Commercial office job and competed on national & international level in our sports. Atiba was motor race driver and I did horse riding, dressage. We had a lot of passion for our sports, became champion a few times on different national levels and our life as a couple was basically build around our sports. For me as a horse owner there was a lot of responsibility involved by going to the stables every day to take care of my two horses, train them and ride competitions in the weekends now and then.
Atiba had races on international circuits in Europe which were back then our weekend getaways. Sleeping in a truck on the parking lot of a circuit and waking up to the sound and smell of exhaust gases. So romantic 😉 But we loved to support each other and enjoyed this lifestyle together for about four years.
We learned a lot of competing on national and international level in our sports. Dedication, perseverance, deal with stress and pressure, being able to take your loss but also celebrate fully when winning a championship. But always focussed on progress. Never satisfied but always realising where you came from and the improvements you made. It made us to the persons we are today. And we are very grateful for all the experiences and lessons we had with our sports!
It was a busy life and some years we didn’t even had the time and budget to go on an overseas vacation. We always realised that our sports were expensive which is why we needed to work fulltime to finance it. In 2015 we both reached a level in our sports that things got really really serious. Atiba became for the second time Dutch Ducati Champion and I reached a level in dressage that I could compete on national and international level with the big professional names in the Dutch dressage world. We realised there was a lot of money needed to continue the competitions for both of our sports.
The life changing event
Then in October 2016 something life changing happend for me. My best competition horse got injured very badly running free in the field. It became clear very quickly that it was the end of my topsport career with this horse. My world fell apart at that moment, it felt as if something had died in me. It was heartbreaking to see my beloved horse in pain. And to realise that 5 years of dedicated hard work with this horse towards my dream of riding on Grand Prix level was gone in a split second. And if that wasn’t enough, my beloved Grandma was on her deathbed as well.
We had our vacation to Indonesia planned in November ‘16 for already half a year. And because we needed it more than ever, we took off for a three week vacation to Java and Bali despite the personal situation. We enjoyed this trip so much. Exploring a completely new country for the both of us, far away from home so we could reset our minds. I started to see beauty in the world again, and with the help of Atiba and my mother, a lot of talking and tears, I slowly started to accept and process the situation.
“Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. Do not worry that your life is turning upside down. Because how do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” – Rumi
In Bali a completely new world opened up for us. We saw people working on their laptops in nice cafes, enjoying their free time on the beach or at a waterfall. Instagram showed us that many people all over the world were combining their online work while traveling the world. So when we got back home, we got inspired by this lifestyle and started to figure out what was needed to build a location independent lifestyle ourselves. Not for a short time to escape, but for a sustainable lifestyle, forever.
The Borobudur in Java 2016, with our first camera
“Create a life you don’t need vacation from”
In 2017 we researched a lot about living location independent, building an online business and traveling fulltime. We went to a workshop for people who aim to become a Digital Nomad. Traveled to Croatia, Paris, the Azores and Denmark spread over 2017 and it became more and more clear for us that we really wanted to live a location independent life.
We both stopped working in the office and made a plan of action for all the things we needed to arrange and set up. One of the most important questions was what we would do with our own house; rent it out or sell it? We researched both ways very well. Atiba made a huge spreadsheet with calculations for both scenarios. The best option for us at that moment both financially and for the peace of mind was to sell our home.
Luckily the real estate market in the Netherlands was almost on its peak, so in April 2018 we put our house for sale. One week later it was sold, and it felt as a huge relief and big step forward to our dream as location independent entrepreneurs. The months before signing the contract we sold most of our stuff. All the furniture, sports equipment and clothes we didn’t need anymore. It was a process of letting go in every sense. Very educational, because we started to realize we didn’t need that much stuff to be happy. We learned about living a minimalistic lifestyle. Because we knew that when we set off for our full-time travel adventure, we could only bring limited clothes and stuff in our backpacks.
The big change
Then the big day arrived. At 8-8-2018 we set off with a one way ticket to Bali. We didn’t realize this while booking the ticket, but the three numbers 8 in this date have a beautiful spiritual meaning. Because if you turn the 8 upside down, it’s the infinity symbol. And that’s exactly how it felt for us. An infinite journey traveling the world together.
We didn’t had a set plan for the countries we wanted to visit. But one thing we did know for sure from the beginning is that we wanted to travel slow. One country per month, or maybe even longer if it’s possible with the visa, so we would have time to work on our business and really enjoy the travels instead of feeling rushed.
In between these three years of traveling we have been back to the Netherlands a few times to see our family. But always with a ticket booked to a new destination to have something to look forward to. Our mothers have also visited us in Bali and Madeira which was an amazing time exploring these beautiful islands together.
Saying goodbye to our Mums for an unspecified period of time
The most important things we’ve learned while traveling fulltime
Looking back on the past three years of traveling fulltime, we can both say we grew a lot as individuals, but also as a couple. Traveling learned us a lot. The most important is that happiness can only be found within. Not in the places we have visited, the things we bought or the people we hang out with. It was important for us to make peace with our past and certain intense situations we both have endured. As child, but also as adults. Going through those personal journeys, apart from each other and together, made our relationship only stronger.
Traveling learned us to be flexible in new situations, adapting to new cultures and environments to really being in the moment and enjoy it to the fullest.
We feel happier than ever before and experience an overwhelming sense of freedom while traveling. From the moment we stopped working in the office, we can plan our own days. Work when we feel inspired and motivated. Our creativity got a huge boost and we can work everyday on what we love to do the most. We learned everything ourselves from scratch. To build this website and the blogs, take high quality photos, learn filmmaking and editing and so on. We forced ourselves to step out of our comfort zone.
We embraced the minimalisticlifestyle and appreciate the little things in life way more. Also because we both got confronted with deaths in our families, we realize that life on planet earth is not infinite. So you better make the best of it and enjoy life to the fullest!
“You are never too old to move forward and make the rest of your life the best of your life”
Traveling in general, building our own business and the connection with new cultures is an enrichment in life and made us look different on the purpose of life as well. For example in western orientated countries it’s usually all about going to school, study, get a proper job, buy a house, go on vacation once in a while, pay your bills, start a family and retire when you’re around 65. It’s more-less a “success and materialistic” focussed society. While during traveling, but also from our sports, we’ve experienced that success is mostly measured by others. But you can better aim for a satisfied life. Because satisfaction is measured by your own mind, soul and heart.
Working and traveling fulltime
After three years of fulltime traveling combined with working we can now say we are more experienced so called ‘Digital Nomads’. Besides this blog, we are filmmakers and create promotional films and videos for Luxury Resorts, villa’s and other companies such as Golf Clubs. We sell and license our footage to stock websites, companies that use our content for marketing purposes such as Tourism Boards and create content on assignment for brands and people that want a photo or video shoot.
Below some of the examples of our photography work for Luxury Resorts and villa’s.
The most important thing we wanted to achieve with this lifestyle, is to truly love what we do. Every single day. To get out of bed and feel the fire within us to start a new day and work towards a common goal that we love.
Some people forget that the goal isn’t money. The goal is to spend your days as you wish.
That’s true freedom.
How to prepare for fulltime traveling
So this was our personal story and all the things we’ve learned and experienced along the way. If you are planning to travel for longer term, you might have a lot of questions on where to start and what to prepare. Below our tips on how to prepare for a long time travel adventure. If you have any questions or additions, please let us know!
Rent out or sell your home & car
Yes, this is step 1, and it might be a tough one. But you have to realize how much money your home and car costs. And what you can save (or earn) to rent it out, or even better EARN when you sell your house!
If you want to rent your house, think for yourself how it will feel when someone else lives in your apartment or house, sleeps in your bed etc. On the other hand, if you’re traveling fulltime you’re sleeping in a bed where many other people slept in before you… It’s just the way you look at things 🙂 Make a financial plan, how much can you ask for the rent, do you need to pay taxes if you do it ‘officially’? If so, how much? Will you earn from the rent or does it cost you money at the bottom of the line?
Sell your home
Selling your house is a whole other subject. You need to be ready for it, and the time of selling needs to be right. Of course you don’t want to sell if you’re losing (a lot) money with it.
To give our own situation as an example, we had a perfect timing when we bought our house, and when we sold it. We bought our new-built house when the prices were really low, and we sold it 3 years later when the prices on the real estate market were on it’s highest peak in years. That gave us a financial buffer for some months to give ourselves the time to set up our business while traveling fulltime. We also saved money to make the sales photos and videos from our house by ourselves. We did the viewings with potential clients ourselves, and in 1 week our house was sold.After that, all the paperwork needed to be handled, which took some months.
Where to register after you’ve sold your home?
When you sell your house, it means you don’t have an official registered address anymore. So think about this before! Do you still want to be registered in your own country, for example with your family or a good friend? That is the most easy option, and especially when you know it will be temporarily for a few months, this is the best way to go. Your family or friend can open your post (if you still receive that haha!). And when you come back to your own country,you can register again in the municipality where you’re going to live.
Minimalize in stuff and sell or give away all the things you don’t need anymore
This feels so good! Earning money with stuff you already have but you don’t use anymore. Or giveaway items and make other people happy with them! Take the time to tidy up your closets, garage, loft, basement etc. Wherever you can find sellable stuff. Make a selection of stuff you think is still worth some money and you don’t need anymore, stuff that you can giveaway to a charity, and stuff that is ready for the garbage. Write down your earnings, and when everything is sold you will feel good that you’ve earned that extra money for your trip! And you’ve “killed two birds with one stone”. You’ve cleaned your house, minimalized in stuff, made other people happy and you’ve earned some extra money! During this process you will realize that material stuff doesn’t make you happy. A beautiful way of appreciating the little things and realising you don’t need 20 pair of shoes or that newest gadget. It’s also way more eco-friendly to keep your wardrobe small and not buy new clothes every month. Your backpack or suitcase can only fit 20 – 25 kg, so get rid of all the things and clothes you don’t use anymore.
Check your insurances
One of the most important things you need to do before traveling long term or fulltime is to check every insurance you have, or still need to take. How is it working with your health insurance if you’re traveling abroad? Will you be still registrated in your country? Which travel insurance do you need? And what is included and excluded? Always reed the conditions!
Are there other things you need or want insurance for? Do you travel with a lot of gear like a laptop, camera, lenses etc? Maybe your travel insurance doesn’t cover all the costs, so you really want to have a separate gear insurance! Believe us, we already have the experience with gear that got soaked by a huge wave… Camera’s and lenses don’t like salt water and sand. That kind of situation is already shitty enough, so you’ll be happy if you realize you gear is covered by insurance after a drama like that. Or think about theft during traveling, what is insured and for which costs? Check this so you know what to expect and how to handle this if you’re ever in a situation like that.
Prepare your journey and make a rough plan of the countries you want to visit
It depends if you’re a planner or a traveler who wants to go with the flow. Our advice is to plan not too far ahead. One or two months is more than enough. You can have a rough plan of the countries you want to visit, but sometimes a place feels so good, that you want to stay there longer.
The weather is also an important part in this. If you’re unlucky and you’re in a country where the weather forecast is super bad, you might want to leave. And sometimes a place, or country, just doesn’t feels right. It gives you the freedom to leave or stay longer if you don’t plan to far ahead.
To have a rough plan of the countries you want to visit gives you the possibility to make a logic plan of flights that you want to take. To split your journey up is financially attractive because short flights, for example in Asia, doesn’t cost a lot of money. Also if you know which parts of the world you’re going to visit, you can make an indication of your daily budget there.
Book one way tickets
If you’re traveling with one way tickets, you make it yourself easy to decide wherever you want to go next. But if you don’t have a ticket out of the country you’re entering, you might need another solution. Some airlines require you to show a departure ticket out of the country. Otherwise you can’t board. There is an awesome solution to this. It’s called an onward ticket. So when entering a country like Indonesia or the Philippines where you mostly need to show a ticket out of the country, you can use onwardticket.
This agency “buys” a ticket for you out of the country which you can show entering the airplane. You pay the agency a small fee, and they make sure to cancel your flight. So you don’t have to think about it anymore after you’ve received your onward ticket. This gives you the freedom to decide where you want to go next last minute. You can also book a ‘24h free cancel’ ticket on expedia. Then you have to cancel the booking yourself but save some money instead of outsourcing it.
Make a financial plan and know your budget
This one is one of the, if not the, most important thing to prepare. You have to know your daily budget, and how much time you can travel with the money you have. It’s generally known that countries in Asia are less expensive than Mid America and Africa. So this might be your first step to take. Which part of the world are you going to explore? And are you going to sleep in hostels, private rooms or more luxury hotels or a villa?
If you’re traveling as a couple or as friends it’s always cheaper. You can share the accommodation and private transfer costs.
To calculate your daily budget, use the following questions
Are you a solo traveler or couple? Or will you travel with a friend?
Which part of the world are you going to explore?
How many flights will you take?
Are you going to eat local food? Prepare you own meals? Or will you eat a lot at restaurants or a combination of both?
What is your accommodation standard? Are you going to sleep in hostels or private rooms? Or more luxury in hotels & villa’s?
Are you willing to take local transport like the bus, train, ferry and tuktuk? Or do you prefer private transport like a taxi, Grab or Bluebird?
I have to say about the last one, in Asia is private transport not expensive at all. There are lots of different providers which you can pre book via an app such as Grab, GoJek, Uber and Bluebird.
Work online or set up your business ~ to continue traveling as long as possible ~
If you want to continue traveling the world as long as possible, like us, you need to have something to earn your money with. Or maybe you’ve won the lottery and have endless money, but I guess you’re not reading this blogpost then haha!
So there are two options. Or you’ve saved about €15.000 – €20.000 to take a break and travel for a few months, maybe a year. Return home and start working and saving again.
Or, you decide to really take the leap, sell everything you have, and live as a nomad. A Digital Nomad, when you decide to work online while traveling.
There are loads of options and different types of work that you want do online to make a good living with. It all starts with the question: What is your passion? And what is your talent? Can you bring these two important things together and make a living of it online?
In one of the next personal blog posts I will share tips on what type of work you can do to become a Digital Nomad.