WHY IT WAS THE RIGHT DECISION TO LEAVE HOME AND TRAVEL THE WORLD
Trust me, before we left Germany we had doubts; doubts if it’s the right decision to quit our jobs and to take all our savings to travel the world. We were both 29 and when we were younger people with 29 and 30 always sounded so mature, even old. At the end of your twenties (better before) you should start building up a proper life with good jobs and some money on your bank account for your future house and kids. And how crazy would it be to go on a long journey with a person you hardly spent time with except on weekends? The longest time Lars and I had ever spent together was only 11 days in a row! Oh my!
And it was indeed the time when friends around us set their relationship status on facebook to “engaged”, sent off their perfectly designed wedding invitations or shared pictures of their newborn babies with the world.
I guess everybody has those doubts when making big decisions. Everybody worries about the future; and I have the feeling the older you get, the more you are concerned about the things you are going to do. Because nobody wants to make mistakes and regret a decision one day. Not Lars, not me, nobody.
Today, almost three years after making the decision to quit our jobs and to explore the world, I know that it was the right decision to take that path. It was the right choice for my life to realize and experience some very important things:
Being with the one I love
Lars and I still enjoy every moment we spend together
When I hear other couples talking about their long distance relationships I automatically think of the time when Lars and I had 200 km between us and we could only see each other on the weekend. I still see myself running out of the office on Friday evenings to catch the ferry (I needed to take a ferry to get to my previous working place) hoping the barrier won’t be faster than me, as soon as it reached the other side of the river I stood there, waiting for the next barrier to be opened so that I could start running to my first train. Carrying, pulling, carrying were the almost automated actions of my arms to get my luggage as fast as possible down the stairs and up again. I still remember how much I always hated the ticket kiosk when the process of printing the ticket felt like ages. Sitting in the first train I knew that it must be on time to catch my next train at the central station. Getting closer to the central station I took my luggage again and knew that another sprint would be necessary to catch the train to Hamburg. Again, it felt like somebody had pressed the “fast-forward” button and I ran like crazy through the central station to catch my train on platform 7. Being out of breath I enjoyed the feeling when the door of the train closed BEHIND me and I knew that 3 hours later a lovely person called Lars would wait for me at the final destination.
But I hated it. And I hated it even more when I thought of Monday mornings and knew that I would have to do this bloody trip again.
And weekends are far too short for a couple that hasn’t seen each other for days. So, we never really knew what to do. On the one hand you want to go out, do something in nature and being active but one the other one hand, you just want to be as close as possible to your partner, be lazy and do nothing. After more than 3 years Lars and I got to a point where we knew we have to change something, either we break up or we do something together. This was the point when both of us realized that we would love to go abroad; on a big adventure. Together. Finally.
Back then we didn’t expect to share almost every minute of the next 2+ years with the other one; and that it could turn out to be that amazing. Yes, even after more than two very intense years we are very happy together, we know it was the right decision for our relationship, and appreciate every single morning when we wake up next to each other; knowing there is no train waiting for one of us.
I was not ready to stay
Home felt like a stopover and the world felt like home
Traveling has been my passion since my first trip abroad in 2005. I spent 6 months in Wellington, New Zealand to do an internship and had a fantastic time there. It was the first time in my life that I travelled somewhere by myself and it was probably the time when I learnt the most about myself. Being on the other side of the world with an age of 22 was an incredible experience. Suddenly people around me spoke some strange kind of English (sorry Kiwis!) and the only connection I had with my family at home was a weekly phone call. Unbelievable, back then my best friend and I wrote letters to keep us updated; there was no facebook or skype (Do you remember those letters, Susi? 🙂 ).
It was probably the best lesson I had because I learnt that there is so much more to explore in our world. It was the time when I realized that also on the other side of the planet – the complete opposite and the farthest place from home – there are lovely people living who have a pretty similar way of living and same values in life and who I can talk to in the same language.
When I came back to Germany I knew I couldn’t sit still at home, having a life at a permanent spot. So, I decided to spend another 6 months abroad, on the beautiful island of Tenerife, Spain before I finished my study.
Afterwards the “mature phase” started and an attractive job opportunity made me stay. But there was still this indescribable feeling in my veins; the hunger for travel and new adventures. I was so lucky when a very good friend of mine and I could take a break from work and travel to Australia; the continent of our dreams. Making our way through this endless country we spent an unforgettable time there. But even those 6 months weren’t enough. And I couldn’t trust my ears when Lars, only half a year after I came back from Australia, suggested to go abroad and to explore the world. You know what has happened since then…
And now we are sitting here in Bangkok, looking back on more than 2 years on the road and I finally know that I am really looking forward to go back home. This indescribable feeling in my veins has changed. It is not the hunger to explore new places that is now in me; it is a feeling of wanting to stay at one place where I can be with my loved ones.
Maybe it’s too late one day
Will I be fit enough to hike through the Andes Mountains when I’m older?
Is it the right time to go abroad? Or are we too old already and should invest our time into our careers, in earning money and gaining financial security? I guess there is no right way to live a life but the longer we have been traveling the more we have realized it was the absolute right decision to do all these things now and not to postpone them. Let me tell you why.
Usually 99% (it’s just a guess, I didn’t count the people) of the travelers we have met on our trip were between 20 and 30. But we also met a few in the age of our parents. Every time it was a pleasure talking to them because they made very different experiences while travelling than younger people; they look at things from another perspective. Very often they deeply impressed us by their physical fitness. On our Santa Cruz Trek through the Cordillera Blanca in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, we met a lovely couple in the beginning of their sixties and they were super fit. With their walking sticks they had no problems to follow the group and they always had a smile in their faces. The trek was sometimes really challenging and hard but they mastered every challenge. Thinking about this amazing couple, Lars and I started again to ask ourselves if we should have waited until we have our own family and are older. But then questions like “Who can tell us if we will be still that fit when we are 60+?”, “Do we really want to do those exhausting trips when we are older?”, “Would we do things that are dangerous like riding down the world’s most dangerous road in Bolivia or climbing through dark caves in Guatemala only equipped with a candle in our hands when we knew that children and grand children were waiting for us at home?” And we both realized that we probably wouldn’t do all these things and that it was good to do them as long as we are able to do them.
Spending our money on lifetime experiences
An unforgettable experience: Holding a super cute sloth in my arms in the Amazon rainforest
Lars and I, even before we got to know each other in 2009, didn’t care about the latest fashion or electronic devices. Lars has always been a saver who was happy with his old fashioned tube TV and who was more than happy to spend his earnings on his beloved hobby; golf. As for me, traveling has always been my favorite I spent most of my money on. When other girls bought themselves new handbags or spoilt themselves with French Manicure I dreamed of my next trip to some amazing destinations where I could walk barefoot along white sandy beaches or hike through barren landscapes.
And I guess the fact that both of us have always preferred investing our savings in activities and experiences made this trip a lot easier. We both know that neither the biggest car nor the prettiest shoes could give us as much happiness as standing in a hut in the Amazon rainforest holding a super cute sloth in our arms. And the longer we travel, the more often we realize that we don’t need expensive items that bore us after a while; it’s more important to fill our memories with special moments that will take our breaths away; over and over again.
Realizing how wonderful home is
The colors of Thailand are incredible but it’s time to go back home
It had always been great to go back home after a long time abroad but to be honest, I had never looked forward to going back home like this time. Very often it felt like leaving home when I left a foreign destination and my real home felt more like a stopover where I didn’t want to stay for too long. But this time it’s different; knowing that we will board our plane back to Germany on October 21st is a really good feeling.
The more time we spend far away from home, the more we realize how beautiful our own country is. It is so embarrassing when I think about the places I traveled to within Germany; I hardly know my own country. I’ve never been to the impressive Alps in Bavaria, the beautiful Erzgebirge in Saxony or the idyllic Spreewald close to Berlin.
And what about Europe? Did you know how fantastic it is to live in Europe? Living in Germany we call seven different countries our neighbors and almost all of them speak different languages and have their own cultures; delicious food and very interesting traditions, and of course, amazing landscapes. Why have I never visited Norway’s fjords, Portugal’s coasts, France’s Bretagne or Greece’s Aegean See? Because I was not interested in it; all these destinations bored me because they were too close, consequently not exotic enough. That’s at least what I thought. I’m happy that, after seeing many countries and places far away from Europe, my dreams have changed and I’m now looking forward to explore the backyard of my beautiful home country and its wonderful neighbors.
I’m not sure how long this feeling of wanting to go back home and wanting to stay there will last for because it is a totally new feeling to me. I’m excited and nervous; I don’t know what to expect from the future. We didn’t know what would await us when we boarded the plane to Mexico in 2013 and we don’t know what will happen when we’ll board the plane back to Berlin in October 2015. But Lars and I know nobody can ever take our memories away that we have collected on the path we took two years ago.
Thanks for reading!
As always, safe travels!