10 years on…..

Wow.  Can’t really believe it  Its 10 years ago since we left full time work and decided to do something a bit different, so thought it would be useful to have a quick review of what its been like.  If you didn’t know, we’d planned doing different for many years, and hence saved all we could in preparation.  My last full time employer (unbeknownst to them) were very kind giving me a cheque to “vanish on the spot” – which brought forward our start date a few months.

We had a budget of £x to spend on travel and the like, and the financial crisis in 2008 cost us half of the budget before we’d even started (oops) – but we never actually spend what was left….  During the first 3-4 years we’d travel for 3-4 months, come back, and do a bit of work, and then go off again.  Mels work was easy to come by, mine was a little tougher but I had some good projects along the way.

We learned to live efficiently and cheaper, learned to shop smartly, and balancing time vs. cost becomes a way of life.  We found longer trips cost less than we thought, and are cheaper than short holidays as you tend not to eat out and drink every night, and you can get “bulk” discount, like “season” ski passes that cost less than 2 single weeks.  We sold our house and were totally free for a few years before having to buy another in the lovely Wiltshire countryside where we’ve settled and working on a good balance of work, life and adventures.  We now both work “freelance” in our respective fields and both have a nice set of customers which generally more work than we want being available.

Along the way we’ve made many new friends and inspired a few to take “similar” paths to jump off the rat race, and whilst each has done different, no one has regretted it!  And most say its easier than they think, and all say they wish they did it sooner…  Its not for everyone, everyone is different, but getting out of the rat race and get a good balance is possible albeit with compromises along the way.  (like my parents now have a bigger n better TV than me!)

So, what have we done over the last 10 years (details elsewhere in the blog)….

  • Adventure & travel wise
    • 1600-1700 nights away in our campervan (!) from going north of the arctic circle, and south as far as the Sahara, and east as far as Budapest.
    • Trips in France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, and of course, the UK
    • 3-4 months snowboarding (from the van)
    • 2-3 months mountain biking in the Alps and elsewhere (from the van)
    • 3 months cycle-touring – Cycled from home to the south of France (twice) with tent
    • 6 months backpacking in South East Asia (Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia)
    • 1 month in Morocco in the van, camping down with the sand dunes on the edge of the Sahara.
    • Lots of Kayaking, hiking, wakeboarding, running (many half marathons and one full marathon), and lots of cycling where we can.
    • Christmas in the Alps snowboarding; on the beach in the Algarve; on a sandy beach in Thailand. New Year in Malaysia; snowboarding in the Alps and in Spain.
  • Other bits
    • Sold a house and bought another, and spending time, money and DIY effort renovating it
    • Spent 3 months building our NV200 campervan which has proven itself as being capable of long wild camping trips

Most things are listed on the blog as this blog was started as (and still is) our personal diary and record.  We need to use it to look back on what we’ve done and where we’ve been.  We get so much help and advice from others on the Internet we are happy to return the favour.

Over the last few years we’re a bit more tied at home so big trips have been a bit less, but we are also really enjoying being based where we are.  Our customers are great and flexible and most of the time it’s fun and not work; and we enjoy spending time with our new local friends.  So the work/life/adventure balance has to be flexible to the current desires.

What next?  Think it’ll be a quiet few years mixing local things with short trips, but we still have many many more plans and will start doing big adventures again soon.

  • Backpacking: We really love backpacking and SE Asia.  Love the people, the food, the adventure, the blagging to get around.  The excitement is hard to beat in Europe.  Where?  Who knows!  Asia, South America?
  • Cycle-touring: We love the physical and mental challenge of long distance cycling and seeing new things and getting somewhere.  We will do more cycle touring before our legs fail us.
  • New van?: We love campervanning and the current van is designed to be a car/van for long trips and local usage – and it meets that need well.  If in a few years we want a change then a new DIY build project may be forthcoming!
  • Home/Garden: Loads to do!  We’d love to do more home grown food, but going away sort of kills that off (literally!)
  • New Zealand?: Still on to do list
  • Campervanning: Still need to visit Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, and revisit Spain/Portugal etc
  • Running: Get back to full fitness and get some more races under our belts!

 

So, any regrets or things we’d change?

Financially, it’s clearly the wrong call – we’d be much better off financially had we been in full time employment for the last 10 years – but where do you draw the line?  I’m sure we’ll be a lot poorer than many of our peers when it comes to retirement – but we won’t starve and if we live that long we’ll have nice memories along the way.  I’m sure we’ll have a few rich friends unable to then do what they want at 65+ and have missed the boat.  Getting the balance right is a personal decision and there is no right answer.

Considering we’ve been living very close in vans, or cycling/backpacking with just each other for company, it’s a surprise we’ve not gone mad or killed each other!  Its not been easy and we’ve had one or three big arguments along the way, but actually its not been that bad.  We are best friends and a sad close couple and (unless Mel is grumpy) we enjoy each others company!  It is worth saying, unless you are fairly well matched, doing what we’ve done could be disastrous!

We never anticipated having to buy another house so soon, but having been forced to its worked out really well – we chose the house and location wisely and the timing was probably right. So guess we should thank my parents for evicting us out of the garage 🙂

For us, we’d say we need to have excitement and a lot of variety.  We couldn’t just sit on a beach for months on end, and we couldn’t just drive round in a campervan with no purpose for too long.  Bumbling around in the van is fine, but we need to mix it with action, activities, something constructive.  And even then, we need to mix it with backpacking or cycle touring or something totally different.  Too much of the same isn’t good.  We want to achieve things along the way.

One key thing we’ve learned, is everyone is different and has different desires and expectations.  A few would enjoy what we do, but mostly others want to do other things that we’d not be so keen on.  We can live to our budget, some would do a lot less, and others would need a lot more as they have more materialistic desires.  So there is not one correct answer, or correct path for any adventures you may have in mind, thus you need to think and plan accordingly for yourself only.

Any regrets?  None whatsoever.  Though we are astounded its been 10 years already!  Imagine if we’d been at work dreaming about it – look what we’d have missed!?!

Anything we’d do different?  We’d probably have gone to Asia earlier and undertaken more backpacking many years before we did.  But the rest, sure there are ups and downs, things that went well and badly, but these are what make the adventures and changing them would make life dull.

 

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