Joseph and I met while working in Portugal this past June. We were working in Lagos; the infamous party town of the southern coast, and seemed to be spending more nights collapsed on the beach watching the sun rise than we did sleeping. It took less than 24 hours to decide we needed to get as far away from the never-ending party as possible, and one night on the beach we wanted to hit the road together. For those travelers who haven’t yet stumbled into the Lagos “vortex”, let me just stress how astounded we were to find ourselves proudly unemployed, standing side by side in an Ikea parking lot, assembling a single bed to throw into the back of our newly purchased home on wheels.
Originally, I’m from Toronto, Canada and Joe is from Brisbane, Australia, so you can imagine every border patrol officer’s surprise when the two of us would rock up half way across the continent with a Portuguese license plate. Of course, our special living conditions were limited in other departments too. So go ahead and add our unwashed hair and lack of clothing that came alongside our lack of air conditioning, and you’ve got yourself a pair of nomadic hippies at border control. Let’s just say, having navigated each day without GPS, we weren’t always prepared for the inspections that followed.
Of all our past travel experiences combined, it only took us a few minutes to realize that we both only have one major travel tip for our fellow travel addicts, and that is to never shy away from being spontaneous. Sure, we’ve made our fair share of wrong turns, but most of them turned out to be some of the best experiences yet. In order to get the most out of a travel experience, be it a week or a year away, you have to follow your gut. Do whatever it is that you want to do, whenever you feel like doing it!
Some travelers may be hesitant to take on our trial-and-error methods, but I have to say it’s a whole new world of freedom. Whether it’s falling asleep in a silent meadow under a sky filled with stars, or waking up 30 feet away from the edge of 100 foot cliffs overlooking the sea in a wind storm, finding yourself suddenly off the grid, in what feels like oblivion, is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced. Our trip quickly turned into a steady search for these little niches of isolation and I encourage my readers to find some of the same.
We continued our journey for a total of six months, somehow managing to hit a total of 14 countries all up. We zigzagged our way across Europe from the very southern tip of Portugal, or what used to be known as the End of the World, up and down the Balkan peninsula, and over to the northern outskirts of Holland. We had some trying times – times when we didn’t think we’d be able go on, but we also had some of the most liberating and inspiring times too. I now have a collection of memorable moments and life lessons that I cannot wait to share, along with some personal relationship advice that I find works even in the dirtiest of situations.
For now, I am stationed back home in Toronto with a variety of projects in the works. Joe and I are putting together some ideas for our “Anti-Guide to Van Life” – a satirical take on every problem we encountered along the way as first-time van-lifers. You can follow us on Instagram @jasandjoe, or email us with any questions, comments or collaboration ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned on Thirtyish for personal travel tips, tricks, and laughable tragedies.
Keep reading, keep trucking, and most of all, keep traveling!