Preparing for the journey or: how do you finally get going?

Preparing for the journey or: how do you finally get going?

Go to 777 Online Workshop of Digital Nomads Switzerland we sorted out our thoughts. The recording is right here. If you like, you can also read the text. But the video would also do 😉

We are asked again and again how to make such a trip. "Just drive off!" is on the tip of our tongue. But it's actually not that simple.

We want to take you with us on our journey. Maybe some parts of our journey will inspire you? Maybe you think, oh, so simple? Or, no, absolutely not mine. Or maybe we're just satisfying a little curiosity here. All good.

The good thing about life and especially about travelling is: there are as many paths as there are people travelling! That's why: this is our path. 

A bit of basic stuff first: We do not find our journey courageous.  

In our eyes, people who jump off mountains at world record speed are courageous. People who have children and start families without a single clue are courageous. Perhaps people who only follow their hearts and not the preconceived expectations of society are also courageous.

And yes, we were brave every now and then. Children. Family. Moving in together. Setting up our own business. Emigrating to another country. It's also mini-courageous to simply eat something at Asian street kitchens whose name we don't know, let alone know how to pronounce. And we were a bit more courageous when we listened to our hearts, ignored the doubting inner voices at first and then somehow started this journey anyway.

As the (inner and outer) voices of doubt grew louder and louder, we faced them and out came a not at all brave preparation phase for our journey. 

Because we approached that like good project management. 

  1. Express a wish. Let it take effect.
  2. Desire or, as they say nowadays, define the goal
  3. Look at doubts & objections
  4. Discuss solutions to individual objections
  5. Determine and implement solutions
  6. In between, always keep an eye on the direction (you could also call it anticipation)
  7. Let's go!

But now to the details:

We wanted to go on a long-term trip and set ourselves 4 years to prepare. Why? Because we are slow. And our youngest would only have finished his education in said time. 

Over the course of four years (and not all in one day!) we decided the following:

  • We will give up the flat, don't want to pay rent at home for the time (means more freedom for us financially and in our minds)
  • We will save so that we can be on the road for at least half a year (maybe a whole year). Here we took our cue from other travellers who spoke of a daily budget of around 5 to 200 francs/euros per person.
  • We discuss a lot whether we want to work part-time or just travel.
  • We organise a knowledge transfer to employees and team members so that employers and clients are not suddenly left empty-handed
  • We consider supplementing our budget by documenting the trip on YouTube, but decide against it. (Travel Freedom)
  • And we've blanked the entire Travel YouTube for anticipation and inspiration

Then, over the course of four years, the following happened:

  • We create a vision wall out of newspaper clippings and hang a huge world map on the wall
  • We consider the worst possible variants, the so-called "worst cases" and look for possibilities!
    • Own accident ➡︎ We decide to remain insured for health and accidents in Switzerland and feel a little safer as a result.
    • We don't feel like travelling any more ➡︎ then we go home, look for a flat, tell clients & boss that we are back.
    • We're getting on each other's nerves ➡︎ Can't imagine, don't have a cool solution for that, we'll see.
    • Children or mothers sick ➡︎ we put enough money in the account for spontaneous flights home and longer stays with the family.
    • Money is used up earlier than planned ➡︎ we set an amount in the account for ourselves from which we no longer travel on but back.

Private inventory

  • We did a little "inventory" of our possessions and realised that we would have to live another 500 years or so to wear out all the clothes, do all the hobbies sufficiently and knit up all the wool supplies.
    • We minimise our lives.
    • Simply nothing new is bought anymore (except of course food and IT needed for work etc.).
    • What is broken is not replaced.
    • We give away a lot of our "stuff" (made us and others equally happy).

The filthy lucre

  • We made a spending plan of monthly and yearly expenses and looked at each item, reducing and renewing where it makes sense (insurances, subscriptions, contracts, etc.).
  • We worked significantly more in the 4 years to fill the travel fund (the idea was still not to work).
  • By spending a lot less money due to the much cheaper lifestyle, we were able to put a lot more into the travel fund
  • We were also able to sell some things, but to be honest, it was vanishingly little.
  • What happened as a result of the minimalised lifestyle was this:
    • Suddenly we had much more time for ourselves, for friends, for activities, for personal things.
    • We had to do much less cleaning, caring, supplying
    • We value the things we still had much more
    • We could have switched to a reduced workload, even without travelling, with a reduced but still very valuable life
  • Then, quite pragmatically, we wrote our wills, briefed our children on where to find what and what to expect. We "planned" possible funerals and created a folder that they just have to run off with so that everything can be taken care of and they can indulge in their emotions in peace. Sounds weird, but it has made us and our kids feel a lot better. (The whole thing started when the subject of living wills crossed our timeline. And then it took its course)
  • In the end, we gave notice on our flat, emptied it and put some stuff in a rented mini-room. And with every month that we travel further, we ask ourselves whether we still need the stuff in that room. 
  • By the end of the planning (or beginning of the trip), we had enough in the account to travel for about a year without working.

Then there were the objections of "the people".

  • But what about your jobs? 
  • What about the pension?
  • How are you going to finance this?
  • Won't you miss family and friends?
  • Isn't it also boring at some point to be on holiday all the time?
  • What's the deal with insurance and stuff? Do you deregister?

And yes, every single question has its justification. Absolutely every one. Because we asked ourselves these same questions when we followed other travellers virtually. And we pursued every question. 

Let's try to find our answers here.

But what about your jobs? 

At first we "only" wanted to take a sabbatical of 3 or 6 months. That would have worked. Then we wanted to save as much as we thought we would need. Later in the phase we realised that we were both doing quite well and would probably find work again somehow after our trip. That calmed us down quite a bit. 

Heike: Later again, I felt that I didn't want to stop working. I like my job too much for that. Less, okay, but I didn't want to stop. Initial conversations with clients showed that it wouldn't be necessary, they would hire me on the road.

Nevertheless, I was looking for good people who could support me in projects and, if necessary, also take over partial projects or even completely. We started wonderful collaborations even before the trip, so I could be much more relaxed.

Gerd: During this time, Gerd also made a statement in his company that he would continue to work at a reduced rate and initiated a large transfer of knowledge to employees.

Then Covid's restrictions came into all our working lives and remote work was now acceptable in one fell swoop. And we were once again more free to work on the road.

When Gerd asked me point-blank whether I really wanted to quit or continue working (and I had to admit that he knew me better than I knew myself), he also made an arrangement with his boss for part-time work.

The result: we work significantly less, but we stayed on the ball.

What about the pension?

What should be there? We continue to pay in. Into the first pillar anyway, Gerd also into the second and both of us into the third. Plus sustainable investments and a few investments. So everything is easy. For those who do not know what is meant by pillars, we recommend a search engine of your choice and quickly suggest "pension system Switzerland pillars" as a search term.

How are you going to finance this?

This question is also more than justified and we have given the answer in the previous text. At the moment, we don't need to save money and can cover all our expenses from our part-time work, even in expensive countries like Norway, the UK and Ireland. (However, we did not suspect this before and are happy to be able to say so now after two years).

Won't you miss family and friends?

Sure! And how! And then we thought about how often we really see our families. Sometimes only once a month. Sometimes even less. 

Everyone lives their own life. And then we asked ourselves, how long do we want to wait? Our mothers are no longer the youngest. Our children are at the age when they can have grandchildren. 

All these questions have led to nothing. Except that we said to ourselves: "Yes, we'll miss them". But if nothing else works, we go home for a short while or go for a visit. 

And if things get even worse, then we go home, find a place to live and then we're just back again. So all feasibilities that come up when we feel like it. 

Because one thing is clear: we also live our lives. Just as the previous and following generations hopefully always lived and will live their own lives. 

Isn't it also boring at some point to be on holiday all the time?

Here we can only say one thing: Travelling is not just a holiday. Travelling is - even if it sounds strange now - rather a kind of philosophy of life or (perhaps temporary) way of life. While at home you have a lot of regular things to do and still somehow fill the day with activities, a larger part of long-term travel is organising non-regular things. 

Questions that we deal with on a daily or at least weekly basis (and see that as okay and part of our daily routine):

  • Where are we going today? 
  • Where will we spend the night tonight?
  • Where do we dispose of our wastewater?
  • Where do we get fresh water?
  • How do we pay the toll?
  • What is the current conversion rate?
  • Is there internet where we want to go, for the call with the family or the customers?
  • Where can we get a simcard for the mobile phone?
  • Every single time we have to orientate ourselves anew in the supermarket, shopping lists are only orientations, because we never know what is available in the next supermarket.
  • We have often told you where from and where to. Instead, we hear exciting stories from people on the ground. But, and this is more than human: sometimes you don't want to know anything, you just want to be left alone. Not always and in all countries so easy.
  • How long will our laundry last, where can we wash next time?

This list of unplannability and irregularity is absolutely okay for us, but it can't be compared to holidays or holidays. So the short answer is: no, we don't get bored and every now and then we long for a beach holiday. Which we also take every now and then in between.

We have recorded a separate podcast episode on this: Travelling is not just a holiday

What's the deal with insurance and stuff? Do you deregister?

We weighed up the pros and cons for a long time and decided to stay registered in Switzerland, continue to pay all the insurance and keep everything else in Switzerland.

Why?

  • Because we are always in Switzerland for longer periods of time, even as long-term travellers.
  • Because we are friends of the solidarity system: when we are doing well, we pay in, when we or others need help, we are allowed to take from the pot.
  • Because it would be tedious to have to re-register everything every time you change countries.
  • We respect the property of others. Everyone in the country, so to speak. That's why we also like to pay taxes. Because that also means for us that we earn well. We are uncomfortable with this "cheap is cool" mentality.
  • Because we very much like being part of a social system to which we feel we belong and can fall back on when needed. 

Finally, a few thoughts in general:

"Oh, you are living my dream!"

No, we are living our dream. If you have a similar dream, get inspired, look at your priorities and decide if you want to try. But if your dance school, garden or Sunday family dinner are sacred to you: try to be happy with them and enjoy them. And a holiday trip every now and then is tiptop!

"I want to get off the hamster wheel too!"

We have two thoughts on this: We never wanted to "get away from" but always "towards". Because this "away from", this hamster wheel, you take with you to 100%. And this thing can be stubborn. Even when travelling. 

We were already very content with our lives before the trip. If the dream of the trip and the opportunities had not arisen, we would have been as content as we were. We took this contentment with us on our journey.

Because: if you can't be alone at home for long, the many distractions on a trip will only satisfy you superficially. At some point you sit alone in a hotel room and ask yourself: what am I actually doing here? 

Or do you always have "lampe" with your partner at home, yes, as stupid as it sounds, this intensifies on the road. In this case, you need to talk to them immediately and sort it out. 

Here, too, our tip: make sure that you switch from the hamster wheel (whatever that may be for you) to a life of well-being. And if you also get help for this, that's good too! We did that too. Not everything has to be done alone. Keyword: couples therapy or coaching.

What did we think before and what is the reality?

  • We imagined crazy things and realised pretty quickly that we love routines.
  • We had an image of ourselves as adventurers that did not match us at all. We have corrected that, that image of us.
  • We thought we were discovering the world. But what we discovered most was ourselves.
  • We really thought civilisation had ended at the Arctic Circle. No way, tarred, cleared roads. Just right for us.
  • At the beginning we thought we had to have a plan for our trip. On the trip itself, we learned that plans only add to the stress.

Merci for "travelling with us

Our first lectures in Switzerland are planned. Others in Germany could follow. We'll see. We would love to take you into the Persian world somewhere in western Germany and also in the Berlin area. We are still looking for venues. If you know anything, please write to us.

Life-pure-lecture-Persia

Lecture & Persian tea time
Camels, cultures & many contrasts
Life-pure travelling with the camper through mysterious Persia

Two dates:21.06.24 or 28.06.24; 7 pm Muri/Bern
21 or 28 June 2024 - start 7 pm, doors open at 6:45 pm RoomZoom - Thunstrasse 162 - 3074 Muri b. Bern

We are happy about 20 CHF per person. Kids are free of charge.Please register by e-mail: andrea.kormann@dakor.ch


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