Time to say goodbye

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”

© Winnie the Pooh

 

The last few weeks were quite hard.

First, we had to finish all our school stuff, which was quite a bit of work, especially for Tamara. Besides, finishing the year with the students is mostly fun, but also kind of hectic. At the end of the week we both had our goodbye parties at work. That truly was the weirdest day of happiness and sadness all at once!

The next week was full of goodbyes. We had both scheduled many coffee-breaks, lunches and diners with friends and family, to spend one last moment with them. At least, for the time being… Meanwhile, there were many things that had to be arranged, like insurance, our postal address and some shopping. All in all, we rarely had one moment to rest or to talk to each other properly.

We spent our last weekend in The Netherlands with our (grand)parents. Those days were calm and full of food and hugs. Oh, by the way, there was some shopping too, since finding some essential things had proven to be hard.

On Monday morning we had only one person left to say goodbye to: Tamara’s sister Sharon. We had breakfast together, but we soon had to go to run some last errands. Sharon walked with us to the van, made some nice photos and waved us goodbye.

Although saying goodbye had been really hard, we were also happy that we could finally drive off. Like Winnie says, we are lucky to know all these amazing and loving people that we had to say goodbye to. It’s not a goodbye to last forever; we are convinced that it’s only a goodbye until we meet again.

Thanks to everyone who has been a great friend, either very close or further away. We will miss you.

Until we meet again.

Improving Tiny’s looks

On June 23rd we did a mechanic course to get to know all about Tiny’s inside. He almost didn’t fit in the garage, so fortunately we hadn’t put the roof rack on yet. The course took a whole day and it really made us feel more confident about all the things we will come across when we’re on the road. Thanks autosleutelcursus.nl!

The next Friday Nienke took Tiny to another garage, where a metal worker converted a big roof rack into a smaller one. This was necessary, because our roof hatch was too high to put the roof rack over it. When the roof rack was put on top of Tiny, he suddenly transformed into a real overland vehicle!

The day after, Conobra made Tiny look a lot prettier! He added a world map to his left side and our logo to all sides. The colour orange was chosen because it stands out and moreover, it’s the colour of our birth country! We are really proud of our van now; please honk when you see us driving by!

The last thing we need to do is to buy a roofbox so that we are able to take our winter clothes and our ski/snowboard gear. Tiny’s garage is already filled with other stuff, so a roofbox is a must! This also means that Tiny will be taller, so we have to take that into account when we want to enter a tunnel.

Last Sunday we had to leave the campground where we had lived for ten months. Since then, we’ve parked Tiny on a farm and we are allowed to stay for a while. We now stay among sheep, goats, horses and a goose! Luckily we are already used to moving around a lot, so that will definitely not be a problem in the near future.

 

 

Counting down the days

In less than a month we will have left the Netherlands.

We have been asked a thousand times if we’re getting nervous for our trip and yes, we are. The date of departure is getting really close now, so we’re literally counting down the days. There even have been moments in which we already had to say goodbye to people. That’s quite scary, to be honest.

Since we’ve still got so many things to do before we leave, there’s a lot on our schedule. We’re getting a bit tired of all the preparations, which means we’ll probably be relieved when we actually drive off. The last weeks we’ve been working on Tiny: he got his check-ups, new back tires, a 12 to 240 Volt inverter and some spare parts to bring with us. Last week we gave Tiny a bath and yesterday we sold his sunscreen. The next thing on the list is to add a roof rack for more storage options and to add our logo and website on the outside of the van.

In the meantime, we got new passports, we got our vaccinations, we ordered business cards and we bought goodbye-presents. A big task that’s left is to get rid of the last things we don’t need anymore. A lot of stuff needs to be tossed away, but there’s also the car, a bicycle, a coffee machine and a table with two chairs. Hopefully someone will be happy to adopt them. In addition, because we have to leave the municipality we’re currently living in, we need to arrange an official post address to be able to receive mail from the authorities. Let’s hope they won’t make a fuss about it (last time they made it quite hard).

All in all, time is moving quickly and we’ve already completed a lot of the things on our list. However, the hardest part has yet to come. Saying goodbye to our friends and family will definitely bring up many tears.

Time to plan

Spring break has arrived, so we have been using these last two weeks to arrange a lot of things for our journey. From April 19th, we have been living in the (huge!) house of a friend and there’s plenty of room to organise all our paperwork. Let’s tell you about what we’ve done so far.

Beforehand, we had made a list of things that needed attention. We started with what we thought was the simplest task: buying new mountainbikes! We already knew which types we wanted, since we had been searching the internet for a while. Unfortunately, the gears of the bicycle that Tamara chose weren’t functioning correctly, so we had to wait two days before another bike came in. The day after, we made a test ride and so far the mountainbikes have proven to be great!

The next thing on the list was to visit the mechanic to make an appointment for next month. Tiny, our home, hasn’t moved for over 9 months now. Therefore he has to be checked thoroughly before he hits the road again. Besides, we want to make some adjustments to the van, like putting on a roof rack and getting him some new tires.

Next, we ordered a new mattress. The one we’ve been sleeping on is still the original from 2002; it’s old and it’s full of mould from last winter. Since the slatted bed base is of the same age and has also been affected by the mould, we’ve had to find a solution for that too. Because the size of the bed is unusual, we thought that would be quite a challenge. Fortunately, we were able to pick up a second hand bed base and cut the slats in the right size. And putting them in the frame is definitely not the hardest part!

During the days, we took care of some administrative things too. We’ve made copies of our most important documents, we’ve cancelled or adjusted insurances and memberships, we’ve found out about visa and border crossings and we’ve made an appointment with the doctor for our vaccines. But most importantly, we had to write our resignation letters! They had to be turned in before May 1, to be in time for our three months notice.

All in all, these weeks have been busy. We have also been sleeping a lot though, so getting back to work shouldn’t be that bad. Only nine more weeks to go!

Planning

‘Hi there, We are Nienke (29) and Tamara (34), two girls from the Netherlands. Starting July 15th we will leave the life as we used to know it and start our trip around the world. Our first stop will be Slovenia where we would love to have our first workaway experience.’

This is how we’ve started our first message to a Workaway host on www.workaway.info. We were extremely nervous to hit the ‘send’ button, since we’ve never contacted anyone this way before. It’s been two weeks now and unfortunately the host has never replied… so we’ll have to search for another project that makes our hearts flutter. 

The plan is to start driving on July 15. In two or three days we’ll travel to Slovenia, where we want to work in a Workaway project for one or two weeks. Then we’ll move on to Croatia, but since it’ll be high season, we probably won’t stay there long. For some reason I’ve really wanted to visit the city of Sarajevo for a while, so the next country on our list is Bosnia. Next, there’s Montenegro and Albania, but so far we haven’t made plans for those countries. In October we will be in Greece and we’ve been really looking forward to that, because inland’s nature is said to be amazing. Besides spending some time on the road, we also want to look for a Workaway project there. For example, we’d love to milk cows or help out in a vineyard! 

By the beginning of November, we need to be in Istanbul. My (Nienke’s) dream is to run the Istanbul half marathon, where part of the route leads over the bridge from Asia to Europe. Although we’ll actually be travelling in the other direction, it seems like the perfect way to start our journey through Asia. And other than that, Istanbul is a place where we would really like to spend hours exploring the city. 

And then winter comes… and that is certainly not our favourite season. Apart from skiing and snowboarding, which we love very much, we really detest cold weather and rain. Therefore, we either plan to stay in the warmer parts of Turkey or travel to Georgia to help out on a farm/in a hostel/with anything (as long as we can spend the cold nights there too). From there on, the cultures we meet will be different from what we’ve ever seen before, so that’s really exciting! 

All and all, planning is going well. Time is moving fast, so it doesn’t take long before we really need to say goodbye. Although we’re getting quite scared sometimes, we’re most of all very excited!

The perks of camping life

We have been living our live at a campground for over 4 months now. And yes, to answer the big question; we still really enjoy it! Some people find it hard to believe, therefore I will elaborate on the perks of camping life.
Let’s start with housekeeping… If I’d spend 30 minutes cleaning Tiny, it would look brand new. When I feel like cleaning, it only takes 15 minutes and as soon as I’m getting into it, there is just no more house to clean.
Next, our finances. I won’t tell you a lot about our bills, but let’s just say it’s definitely an advantage to live on a campground. This has even been one of the reasons we moved Tiny to the campground in the first place, since it allows us to save more money for our trip.
Living at a campground truly gives us a holiday feeling. The campground we are currently situated at, has an outdoor pool which was still open in September. After a long day at work there was nothing more pleasant than to put on our bathing suit and dive in. The water was freezing, so we usually left the pool after a short swim, but it was nice and refreshing. When after our swim we laid out in the sun with a good book, we felt like it was still summer vacation!
When the days were too cold or we didn’t feel like swimming, we put up our hammock and enjoyed our good book there. At the moment it’s quite cold and often rainy, which makes us cuddle up under a blanket and just watch one of our favourite shows on Netflix. We pile all our pillows on the bed and turn it into a warm and comfortable couch. For Christmas we’ve even put up decorations and lights!
To upgrade our living space, we’ve attached a tent to Tiny. Although it’s a little too cold now, we’ve turned it into a nice living area. We’ve put in a little couch and sofa, a rug on the floor and some lighting. It really feels like a cosy little home.
‘Camping life’ , we are loving it!

Since it’s not only been sunshine and rainbows, I will end this blog with some less enjoyable aspects of living in Tiny. I’ve just finished doing our dishes. You would think doing dishes isn’t much of a hassle… and I even used to enjoy doing the dishes at a campground… but believe me… that’s over. The washing facility at the campground doesn’t have a warm water tap, so we can’t take our dishes to a decent sink. That means we are doing our dishes in Tiny, but the sink is about half the size of our plates. We have been doing the dishes in a bucket outside, but this means boiling water in our 1L water cooker (3 times before the bucket is full)… Finishing the dishes then leaves us with a soaked towel. This brings us to another disadvantage: things take forever to dry! In our tiny space, the air gets pretty humid and so does everything in it. Putting on a damp sweater in the morning isn’t the best way to start the day.
Last but not least: our ‘Porta Potti’. Tiny has got a portable toilet, but we haven’t been using it much. Mainly because emptying it all the time is not our favourite thing to do. So whenever we need to go to the toilet, we have a 100m walk. Fun in the sun, but not so much in the rain or when it’s cold.

To make a long story short, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. However, to make sure we can keep enjoying camping life, we kindly ask the winter to treat us gently.

 

 

Home sweet campground

The summer holiday has ended, so from now on we permanently live on a campground and have to go to work from there. Some co-workers even asked us why we were still at school: “didn’t you go to Asia?!”

Well, not yet. We will stay on the campground till at least the end of May and we told our bosses that we’ll most likely finish this year at school. During these months Tiny can prove its worth: will he keep us warm in winter, won’t we need more space to move around and importantly, will he start running again when we’ll begin our journey? Besides trying out our tiny house, we can save a lot of money by living on the campground. The place is quite cheap, we don’t need to pay road taxes for Tiny and there are no other costs we need to pay while living here.

In the two weeks we’ve been here so far, we set up our tent and moved ‘all’ our stuff. The tent in front of Tiny is about 10 square meters and we made it feel like our living room: it has a couch, a chair, a side table and a rug on the floor. We put candles on the table and lights on the roof, so we’re able to sit there at night too. We even had a little fish! Its name was Big and it had really pretty orange fins and a grey body, but unfortunately he died after 12 days…

Outside, we’ve put a hammock between the trees and set up a table and some chairs. Also, our bicycles are standing against a tree, we have a fire bowl for campfires and there’s a bird house that looks like an old VW van.

To go to work, Tamara has to ride her bike for about 10 minutes. At Tuesdays and Thursdays she puts on her running shoes and runs to school. It’s only 3 kilometers. Nienke can either go to work by car or by train. Both take about 40 minutes to get there. It’s really convenient to have a train station (Gilze-Rijen) nearby! One day we went to Tilburg to have diner and Nienke has already been to friends in Amsterdam and Barendrecht.

We feel truly happy to be here. It’s small, we don’t own a dishwasher, we have to walk 100 meters to go to the restroom and when it’s cold we need to put on an extra sweater, but it definitely feels like home. It’s really great to be outside all the time and to be able to smell the fresh air.

Another car boot sale

With only one more month to go before we have to move out of our house, we went to sell another load of our stuff. The car boot sale was in our own town, so we put all the boxes in Tiny’s belly and drove him to the market square across the street.

The weather was amazing, so the first hour after we parked under two trees, we enjoyed the sun and waited for the signal to unload the car. And wow, we had just started to get the boxes out and people were already all over our stuff! This was going to be a crazy day…

In the picture you can see Tamara standing in front of Tiny, with our self-made promo board in its back door. During the day, many people were asking about our trip. They were very curious, which was awesome! Some even had some practical tips to share.

We sold many books, all the bigger things (bar stool, lounger, juice presser, screen, hair dryer), some small things and half of the jewelry we’d put on a display. The last hour was pretty quiet and it was starting to get dark, but we stayed until the very end.

By now, our house is getting quite empty, although we still have a lot of work to do before we leave. In two weeks we will have to say goodbye to our two cats, Sem & Lucky, who will be adopted by a great family nearby. Then we’ll have the last two weeks to get rid of the last furniture and fill up the holes in the walls.

It’s getting really close now!

 

It’s all starting to take shape

In the last couple of weeks we’ve been turning our house upside down to sort out all our stuff. There’s one pile that goes directly into the waste bin. The next pile is crammed into boxes for upcoming flea markets. And the last pile, the most important but smaller pile, is to keep. Only the most essential and valuable belongings will remain.

In nine weeks from now, we’ll move out of our house. Tiny is patiently waiting for us to move in. However, a lot has to happen until that moment and I’m convinced that the time will fly by.

While reading a fabulous book from two Argentineans who travelled all the way to Alaska in an 1928 car, I came across a part that totally blew my mind.

“The education of your parents and their treatment of you is very important, as is your own schooling and the society in which you grow up. That aside, you can’t blame them for your way of life and your failures. You have the intelligence to change what is necessary, to be what you want to be. If you are a person who doesn’t fit in the world that surrounds you, if you feel uncomfortable doing what you like, and everyone looks at you like a frog from another pond, that’s how it is: that’s not your place. Nevertheless, don’t change, look for another pond, find your place, where the world that surrounds you is your world. Only you are responsible for yourself, don’t look for excuses among others.”

So, that’s what we’ll do. We’ll find our place, our pond.

Selling our stuff

Today we filled Tiny with boxes and shopping bags and went to the flea market. After all, when he’s gonna be our next home, we need to get rid of most of our stuff anyway.

Books, tableware, stuffed animals, picture frames, electrical stuff, handbags, clothes, a pair of speed skates… We had it all.

At the end of the day we were tired and grumpy, but we did earn some money! Although we still had to carry a lot of stuff back to the campervan, it wasn’t as much as we started off with.

In the next four months we’re selling the rest of our furniture too. Do you want to help? We can really use some muscles to carry all our stuff on the days we’re selling!