Recently someone told me ‘freedom is inside you’. I thought that was really interesting because one of the things that I will definitely miss when we get back to Holland is the amazing sense of FREEDOM that traveling gives me. I’d love to figure out how to retain that feeling once we get back!
We’ve had this amazing time together as a family and we were really lucky we were able to do this. Although, was it really simply luck? I’d like to think a lot of it was our own doing as well, us saving all these years and daring to take the leap a lot of people only dream about. Some may say I sound ungrateful when I say we ‘have’ to go back because Holland isn’t that bad. And it isn’t, only we’d rather be on the road!
Actually writing this blog post is proving to be quite therapeutical, as it’s helping me come up with ideas of how I want to change things when we get back. So, besides freedom, what else will I miss about being on the road?
On top of my list is definitely SUNSHINE. It’s one thing to feel free and happy when the weather is nice and it stays warm and light until late in the evening, it’s quite another when you return to short, cold, rainy days and long dark nights. The winter season really effects me, unfortunately not in a good way. Even though we’ve visited some places where we needed a sweatshirt or even a jacket, we always knew that the warm weather was only a short ride or flight away. Being outside with our little one all day every day, swimming and having fun in the sun, is definitely something that I’ll miss. I’m not sure what to do about this, but I’m planning for lots of time outside even if it’s cold and wet. And hopefully the occasional short trip to some sunshine if our budget allows.
UNPREDICTABILITY also needs to be on this list. It’s what makes travel so interesting. Everyday is different, new places to visit and foods to try, new accommodations, new people you meet. For a control freak like me this keeps me just that little bit outside of my comfort zone, which is a good place for me to be. It’s too easy to fall back in my usual routine when I get back in Holland, definitely something to watch out for. We’ll have to make sure that the ‘on Monday we do this, on Tuesday we do that’ routine doesn’t prevent us from doing things spontaneously.
With unpredictability also comes FLEXIBILITY. You have to be flexible to adapt to new situations that you might find yourself in. Even though we have to be a bit more mature about decisions now that we travel with a toddler, still all three of us have become so much more flexible since we left Holland. Jace is a master at adaptation by now, he’ll sleep everywhere, in a car, on a bus, train or airplane, it doesn’t matter to him anymore. I’m sure I could be lots more flexible, but that’s just not who I am, so I’m happy with what I’ve gained so far and I will do my very best to keep it up.
Having so much FAMILY TIME with the three of us also makes this trip special. We spend most of our time together and Jace loves having both his mommy and daddy around all day every day. Of course the downside is that I hardly have any me-time and as a couple we don’t get to spend much time alone together. But it’s so cool to see our little one grow up and be so close to him every day. Once we get back to Holland we have to work again so Jace will have to go to daycare. It’ll be hard for me not seeing him all day every day, but also good to have some me-time again. And I’m sure that he’ll really enjoy having some of the same friends around for longer than a few days.
BEING INDEPENDENT is also a big one. Back home there are so many people making demands on our time and so much outside interference. Lots of people have an opinion of how you should live your life. On the road you can just do your own thing, without anyone telling you what to do, when to do it or where to go. It’s been very liberating being able to live like this for a while. It really made us aware of how much influence (we let) other people have in our lives.
MEETING NEW PEOPLE is so easy when you’re traveling. Unlike Maurice, randomly talking to strangers usually isn’t my forte, but somehow it’s a lot less difficult for me when we’re on the road. I love meeting both fellow travellers and locals and swapping stories. It’s so inspiring to hear what other people are doing, where they are going and what their plans and dreams are. It’s comforting to be among friends too, don’t get me wrong. And very often they can still surprise me. But I do want to find a way to mee new people too. The Facebook group Families on the Move has been great both socially and as a travel resource and I hope I can continue contributing even though we’re not on the road anymore. Also I’ve been thinking about setting up some tours on WithLocals.com. That way I could even earn some money while meeting other travellers and showing them around.
As a control freak having LIMITED CHOICES was also really good for me. You can only bring so much while you’re traveling and even though we still have way too much luggage, there is no room for materialism. If you only have two shorts and three shirts to choose from each morning, life suddenly becomes a lot less complicated. We did buy a few things for Jace, some small toy cars, some clothes, but not much. And for ourselves we have the rule that if we buy new clothing something old has to go. It’s working pretty good so far. It will be a bit overwhelming to have so much random ‘stuff’ again when we get back home and I’m definitely planning to get rid of a lot of it. It not only literally clutters our space, but also our heads.
I will also miss EATING OUT and STAYING IN HOTELS. There are lots of downsides to it (lack of home cooked meals, lack of privacy), but what I like about it is that you don’t have to go grocery shopping, you don’t have to do the dishes and you don’t have to clean your house. I simply don’t enjoy housework (dishwashers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners simply have zero appeal to me). Of course, prices are so much higher in Holland, so financially we could never manage to eat out so often and Maurice generally doesn’t like it because ‘it always takes them so long to serve the food’, but I’m planning on eating out at least once a month. Even if it’s only to keep Jace used to eating in restaurants (good excuse right? ;-)).
Being active all day also means NATURAL EXERCISE. No need to go to a gym when you’re out all day walking, climbing and swimming. Of course carrying a toddler (now about 13kg) in back carrier is great exercise too 🙂 We’ll still keep chasing after Jace when we get back home, but we’ll be indoors much more, so the exercise you get from that is limited. I do plan to go outside at every opportunity, but I know it’ll be less than on the road. So I’ll be keen on eating healthy and I want to try to take up running again. Hopefully I’ll have the discipline to get past those first few hard km’s.
Other random things that I’ll miss:
– Cheap fruits and fruit shakes
– Eating freshly cooked food without any preservatives or artificial flavouring
– Riding a motorbike with the three of us
– Stunning nature and amazing animal life
– Scuba diving in amazing tropical places
So, there’s my list. It’s become a bit personal, but I hope you don’t mind. Even though it’s depressing to think about all the amazing things that I’ll miss when this trip is over, it was also a great exercise for me. Instead of getting stuck in depressing thoughts, I’m now focussing on all the positive changes I want to make in my and our lives when we get back to Holland!