One year on the road

We have been on the road for exactly one year! Last year, on July 15, we left The Netherlands for our live-changing trip to the far East. Because of corona we have only come this far; to Georgia. According to our plans, we should have been in Kirgistan by now, but as you know, that is impossible at the moment. However, we are happy that things turned out this way, because we have met many great new friends during our stay in this country.

During the 12 months that we have been moving from place to place, we have tried to spend as little money as possible. Our plans were to stay on the road for two to three years, so we had to save money to be able to do that. We keep track of our costs every day and we put them in the computer every month. Because of our travel-versary, we made a colourful chart to get a good view on the money we’ve spent.

Some of you might be surprised; we are actually quite surprised too. When we lived in The Netherlands, our monthly costs were much higher. Here, we spend much less money on housing (as we are sleeping in our own van and in nature) and on diesel (as it is much cheaper). Also, our health insurance is half the price and we don’t have to do groceries when we are doing a Workaway.

Another benefit of working half the year (in 2019) and travelling the other half, is that we got a lot of tax back. Because our yearly income was much less than calculated, the tax on our income was lower and we received a nice surprise in May. All in all, this means that we’ve had a very cheap year! Who says travelling is expensive?!

Yesterday, we said goodbye to some of the new friends we made here in Georgia. If it wasn’t for corona, we would have never met them. Even though things have gone differently from what we had expected and we’ve had some difficult moments, we are grateful. Georgia is a beautiful country; we have seen almost all parts of it. It has mountains, beaches, lakes, wild nature, fresh fruits and veggies, both extremely high and low temperatures and of course: friendly people.

It’s almost time for us to leave. Right now, we are driving back from the last part of the country that we wanted to visit: Svaneti. We spent time with our friends, hiked up the mountains and played with a lot of (stray) dogs. Because we have to pick up the results from Sparta’s rabies test, we have to go back to Tbilisi one more time. After that, it’s really time to go: we will go back to Turkey. We have no idea what we’ll do the next couple of months, as all the other land borders are still closed. We’ll figure it out as we go!

You stopped work to do Workaway?

We have been in Arla for two weeks now and have spent most of those days working. So you might think: why did we quit our jobs, if we’re still working? We’ll try to explain that in this week’s blog.

Being part of a community

As you probably know by now, both of us love travelling. We use the internet, our Lonely Planets or other sources to find cool places to visit. So many beautiful spots exist in this world, that I don’t think we will ever get enough of this hobby. One of the downsides of travelling is, that we usually feel like outsiders. We would love to stay longer in one place to get the full ‘cultural exchange’, to find out what it is like to live somewhere and really be like the locals, rather than just passing by. That’s where Workaway comes in! We have found this organisation online by coincidence, just by looking for jobs around the world. With Workaway we get to live with a family or an organisation for as long as we agree on. Living with someone for a while really helps in the cultural exchange and we love to share and learn all about the everyday life in the places we visit. We receive accommodation and food and in exchange for that we work a few hours a day. It doesn’t really feel like working though; it feels like we contribute to a cause and help out in a small, or bigger, community. We love trying all kinds of jobs and it feels really nice to try different things, instead of just keeping our teaching job until we are at our retiring age.

One job for life

As a young girl I, Tamara, already knew what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a primary school teacher. So, I did what was necessary and at 21 I graduated and was in possession of my diploma. I could be teaching the rest of my life! After having taught for a few years I started thinking. Is this really what I want to do for the rest of my life? That’s when I decided to study some more, take some classes and get a master’s degree in Theoretical Education. In the meantime, I started thinking about totally different jobs. Wouldn’t a travel job suit me better, or maybe something with animals? Or maybe even farming? To be honest, I have no idea, because I have never tried many other jobs. Now, through Workaway, we are able to try as many jobs as we want and we can start different jobs whenever we like. If we like the job, we’ll stay. And if we don’t like it, we leave!

Let’s take today (Thu. 3-10-19) as an example for all the different jobs we do here. This morning, after going for a run through the little village of Arla, we had breakfast with our hosts. Afterwards, we chose two old chicken from the coop. We had been taking care of these chicken since we arrived here and I had just fed them. Therefore, it felt kind of sad to know that this would be their last meal. We helped slaughtering and plucking the chickens, because our host was selling them. It was our first time and it was scary and interesting at the same time. I don’t think one of us will become a butcher and I’m not sure yet what will happen the next time I eat chicken…. I might even end up being a vegetarian! After we finished cleaning everything, we needed to upgrade our toilet. Because it will rain the next few days, we needed to make it waterproof. We built a roof out of a fence, some wire and plastic. And it actually works! No more wet butts! Later today I will probably work in the garden for a bit. Before this experience, I thought most greens close to the ground were weeds. By now, I recognise carrot, tomato, potato, amaranth and ‘mustard’ plants. I also know that some specific plants leave nitrogen in the soil and that other plants are just real weeds. To top the day off we will make some Tahini out of sesame seeds and if there is time enough, we will also make pita breads. We love all these learning opportunities, so we are not leaving yet!

Budget

Besides getting to know both cultures and occupations, another reason for us to use Workaway is that it enables us to travel on a really small budget. This week we spent less then 35 euros! On the days that we work, we usually spend no money at all. Occasionally, we walk into Arla or one of the surrounding towns to get Wifi and a drink. Most of the money we spent this week, was to cover our lunch and some snacks on our day off. We biked to the beach again and had a sunny, lazy day. In the afternoon we had chicken Souvlaki in the city. So, we really only spend some money on our days off. We also might do some touristic things or spend some money on snacks. We’re not using Tiny for driving purposes, so we don’t spend any money on diesel, which is one of our biggest expenses. Thus, with Workaway, we really keep our costs low. Hopefully, this way we will be able to continue travelling for a long time.

How do we find a (new) host?

When we feel like moving on, we start looking for a new Workaway. We have an app on our phone that allows us to look for hosts by region (or country). For example, Greece has 274 hosts. Sometimes we use a filter to narrow our search. We can filter on types of jobs, availability, Wi-fi and lots more. We can even look for paid positions. (A paid position means that you’re asked to work for more than 5 hours a day, 5 days a week.) The app then shows us all the hosts that meet our preferences and we start reading their profiles. All profiles have a description; some are long, others are short, but they all tell us what kind of help they would need. The hosts also write about the cultural exchange and learning opportunities. Usually they also add pictures. If we like what we read, we always check the feedback that our new potential hosts might have. Next, we write them a message and we usually get a message back within a couple of days. After that, we prepare Tiny to leave our spot. Right now, we are talking to a lady in Istanbul who might host us in the beginning of November. So, in 2 weeks from now, we will be on the road again!

There is no gallery selected or the gallery was deleted.

 

Where do we sleep at night?

We hardly experience any stress while travelling. Or maybe it’s just a different kind of stress. It’s certainly not like we lay awake at night worrying about the next day or things that are still on our to-do list. This feeling has been really nice and quite different than what we sometimes experienced at home in our busy everyday life. Of course, there are little things to stress about, like who goes first on an intersection with no signs or will Tiny make it up this bumpy hill. But our biggest ‘worry’ these days is ‘where do we sleep tonight’.

There are days that we feel adventurous and we decide to look for a spot ourselves. We drive off the main road and just start looking for a spot that looks suitable for wild camping. We prefer a spot that is a little bit off the street, on its own, but not too remote. Usually we look for a spot close to a river, lake or the sea. This is because we often find good spots there, we like the view and for hygienic purposes: it means we can take a ‘shower’!

We do want to feel safe in a spot and sometimes this means that we will be looking for a few hours. Last night we felt adventurous too, but we didn’t have much luck. There are a lot of bars, hotels and restaurants on the seaside on Lefkas, the Island where we are now. Beside this, there are a lot of signs saying no camping is allowed. That’s why we followed some other vans. They led us to a restaurant with a private parking and that’s where we are now. We had pita Giros and Tzatziki at the restaurant and they let us spend the night for free (and use the toilet and showers). So last night we slept in a private parking, with five other campers, overlooking the beach and the Ionian Sea with a beautiful sunset. Nienke has just made us a cappuccino at the restaurant. Technically they aren’t open yet, but the guy cleaning the place told us (or we think he did, because it was all in Greek) to make our own coffee. Parking on a “P” is definitely a great option from now on!

When we don’t feel like looking for a camping spot ourselves, we use an app. There are a lot of those. Our top 3 is Park4Night, iOverlander and Campercontact.

 

These apps are really helpful for Overlanders! They show payed camper places, campgrounds, and free places to camp or park. Other travellers have made a pretty good description of places and the apps will also tell you what kind of amenities there are (like water, shower, toilet etc.). Travellers like us send in new reviews all the time, so you get a pretty good idea of what the place will look like at the moment. We always read the latest reviews, because sometimes things will change. Sometimes reviews tell you to ‘don’t go there, because the road is in really bad shape’. These reviews are super helpful and so we always try to add a review after we have been somewhere. Most of the places even show you pictures and some of our pictures or in the app as well. We even added some new ones, like the amazing place we found in Karlovac, Croatia. It’s on Campercontact and hopefully a lot of travellers are enjoying that wonderful place now.

Some people are not enthusiastic about wild camping and tell us to find a campground. But we don’t really understand the hassle. We don’t leave any trash and just park our van at a spot in nature for one night to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Why shouldn’t we?

We don’t always have to look for a place, since we’ve been using Workaway too. Last Tuesday we arrived in Paleros, Greece. We parked our van at a cottage, a bit up the hill and of course with a scary road again. Tiny barely made it; it really seems like these roads are our thing before getting to a new Workaway address. The place was cute, but a little outdated. The view was magnificent, the people we worked for where friendly and the animals we took care of were really cute. But the work wasn’t really what we expected and didn’t really make us happy. One night both of us were lying awake and we realised that we were actually worrying, or even a little stressed for the first time in two months. That’s why we decided to leave early. So now again, the question is: where do we sleep tonight?

There is no gallery selected or the gallery was deleted.

 

 

Bye bye house [VLOG]

Our first VLOG! And yes, I admit, it does need some more practicing.

A co-worker at Nienkes school recommended an Olympus Tough for making vlogs and action videos. After spending some hours comparing digital cameras, we decided to try it out. The camera can also be used under water, tracks wherever you go and it doesn’t mind bumping into things. The first video we took, is the vlog you can see below. However, we were really disappointed about the gigantic wide angle, which makes the walls look circular in stead of straight. For videos that might not be such a big problem, but for photos it’s definitely not pretty.

So, after a while we decided to return the Olympus to the store. Today a new camera was delivered: a Sony Cybershot. This camera should be great for taking quality photos, but is also a great vlog camera. However, we probably need to be much more careful with the Cybershot, since it cannot swim and its body looks quite delicate…

P.s. We still need to learn how to put English subtitles under our vlogs…